Police say they held a gun-making ring in the Toronto area



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The Ontario Provincial Police said it arrested an organized crime group that manufactured illegal firearms and sold them to street gangs in the Toronto metropolitan area, the Niagara region, and elsewhere.

"This is a group centered on GTA," Supt. Bryan MacKillop of the OPP organized crime surveillance department said in an interview Tuesday.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum, speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, says police incursions last week will prevent illegal
OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum, speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, said police incursions last week will prevent illegal firearms from "killing more people." (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

"They were involved with street gangs," MacKillop said.

The eight-month operation, dubbed the Renner Project, targeted a multi-ethnic organized crime group that produced restricted and untraceable firearms using unregulated parts. The group has no name, but is considered an organized crime group because of its ongoing criminal activities, police said.

"Trafficking in illegal firearms and gun-related violence continue to threaten public safety in communities across Ontario," OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum said in a prepared statement.

"By bringing down a criminal operation of this magnitude, we prevented illegal weapons from killing more people in communities in the Greater Toronto and Golden Horseshoe areas," Barnum said.

The investigation culminated in 39 coordinated attacks last week involving more than 400 police officers from various police forces, police said.

Police said they seized 14 pistols, six long machine guns, including a machine gun and an assault rifle, grenades, mufflers, a stun gun and body armor. The weapons were manufactured in Ontario using existing parts and sold to Southern Ontario offenders, according to police.

"These are all totally illegal firearms," ​​MacKillop said.

The guns were sold for an average of $ 2,500 each for various criminal groups throughout the province, including several in the GTA region and the Golden Horseshoe, including Hamilton, according to police.

"These are not mass-produced firearms," ​​MacKillop said.

"We were actually able to track the non-traceable firearms back to the manufacturer," he said.

Unlike cool firearms, these weapons did not have serial numbers.

The OPP said officers also seized 1.2 kg of cocaine, 30 grams of methamphetamine, 13 grams of heroin, 66 fentanyl tablets and $ 85,000 in cash during the attacks.

Police said 23 people were charged because of the manufacture and distribution of weapons.

Police said the leaders were Bruce McKinnon, 47, of Rockwood, near Guelph, Ont. and Jon Rasmussen, 29, of Smithville, between Hamilton and Niagara Falls.

McKinnon and Rasmussen would have manufactured and trafficked more than 120 pistols, police said.

McKinnon is charged with offenses, including five counts of conspiracy to commit a chargeable offense and eight counts of firearm trafficking.

Rasmussen faces charges, including 16 counts of smuggling of firearms and five counts of conspiracy to commit an indigestible crime.

MacKillop declined to comment on investigative techniques and whether secret agents were involved.

Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter who mainly covers crime. You can reach him by e-mail at [email protected]

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