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News - All - 7 Sep 2019

News Item 47 of 4661 

Miscellaneous: 7 Sep 2019
Police seize guns, arrest 30 in Cambridge drug crackdown

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin speaks at a news conference Friday about the arrest of 30 people and seizure of weapons as part of an investigation into increased violent activity and the illicit drug trade in Cambridge. - Peter Lee , Waterloo Region Record Weapons

CAMBRIDGE Waterloo Regional Police arrested 30 people and seized guns, weapons and drugs as part of an investigation into violence and the illegal drug trade in Cambridge.

"The number of weapons, ammunition and illegal drugs that were seized during this investigation is concerning," said Police Chief Bryan Larkin at a news conference held at police headquarters on Friday.

"We have a significant drug addiction problem in our region, and beyond, which is driving a significant amount of crime and public disorder."

The investigation, named Project Piece, took four months and included nine search warrants eight in Cambridge and one in Kitchener.

It led to 115 charges against two people from Kitchener and 28 people from Cambridge, aged 17 to 59. They include drug trafficking, stolen property and weapons charges.

Items seized include:

Four guns, three imitation guns, four prohibited knives, a crossbow, 40 rounds of ammunition, a stun gun and an expandable baton.

Illicit drugs with a street value of $140,000, including fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine powder, and pills including hydromorphone and other narcotics.

More than $12,000 in cash, as well as counterfeit currency.

"The arrests had a direct impact on the illicit drug activity in the city of Cambridge, as well as significantly disrupting networks across the Region of Waterloo," said Larkin.

Information about a "significant" drug trafficking network in the Cambridge led police to focus their attention on the city, said Larkin.

"The reality is, the three homicides that we've had this year in the region are all within the city of Cambridge," the chief said.

"They're dealing with some significant challenges and issues that are very well-publicized and we felt that it was appropriate for us to target and invest resources in the city of Cambridge."

But violent crime has affected the entire region in recent months, he noted.

Over the past 12 months, violent crime has increased 15 per cent in the region, "which really takes us back to around 2008 levels of crime," Larkin said.

There has also been an increase in overall crime by about 6 per cent, he added.

There is also a concern in the increase of firearm-related incidents, said Larkin.

"Over the last number of years there's been an increase in criminal activity in the Greater Toronto Area, in southern Ontario, and within our region much of it related to the illicit drug trafficking network, street gang activity, organized crime and hence the use of illegal firearms."

He said that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 4, Waterloo Regional Police collected 621 firearms. Of those, police seized 252 guns in situations involving family violence or other public safety situations and in the executing of warrants. Many of the other firearms were either found or turned over to police for destruction.

Firearms are becoming far more common, Larkin said.

"Ten years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, the seizure of a firearm was pretty significant it's a weekly occurrence now," he said.

Police seized firearms in every one of the 30 controlled drug and substance act warrants executed this year.

"It speaks to the subculture, the drug culture, that is one built around violence, intimidation, (and a) really strong presence of weapons."

Twitter: @BoothRecord

Twitter: @OuthitRecord

by Jeff Outhit Waterloo Region Record/AA

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