Largest mafia bust in Ontario history as 15 arrested and $35 million seized
Update: a former version of this article incorrectly had “$26 million” in the headline.
Fifteen people have been arrested following the largest mafia bust in Ontario history, York Regional Police say.
Over $35 million worth of sports cars, homes, and cash were also seized in what was a major trans-Atlantic probe, targeting Canada’s most prominent wing of the Ndrangheta clan in Canada.
According to CTV, Police began taking initiative during the summer of 2017 when a sharp spike in shootings and arsons plagued the GTA city of Vaughan. “Project Sindicato” was launched, an effort that would target the group accused of conducting illegal backroom gambling dens in a number of cafes across town.
The bust is being called the largest in the province’s history.
According to Det. Sgt. Carl Mattinen to CTV News, the mafia group would lure in vulnerable gamblers, have them exhaust their resources and leave them penniless, to which they’d then loan the gambler’s money at high-interest rates. Once the gamblers were unable to pay up, they’d threaten physical harm.
“People in this cycle were gambling away their life savings,” said Mattinen. “The intimidation including shootings and arsons.”
Since the investigation began 18 months ago, York police surveilled cafes, the homes of alleged mafia members, and those associated with them. Along with this, they’d follow mafiosos to a number of Ontario casinos where they would launder their money.
Police estimate that the group racked up $70 million over the last few years, with money being laundered by the same usual suspects: real estate, construction, and financial services businesses.
At one point, the investigation went international. Mattinen says the ‘Ndrangheta mob has links to the city of Calabria, Italy. That’s when a group of York Regional detectives packed their bags and head to the Bel Paese to help coordinate raids against the Group’s large Canadian chapter.
As many as 500 officials then raided 48 homes and businesses across the GTA on July 14 and 15, where 14 people were arrested. According to Mattinen, “nine of them can be considered major players.”
Officers also seized a whopping 27 homes valued at $24 million, 23 luxury vehicles, as well as $2 million in jewellery and cash.
Italian State Police Director Fausto Lamparelli says that a further 12 alleged members were arrested back in Calabria.
“Last night in Italy, the operation arrested 12 dangerous offenders,” said Lamparelli via translator. “They are closely associated to the Canadian branch of the operation.”
The group faces a number of charges including tax evasion, participation in a criminal organization, some firearms offences, and loan sharking.
Devan Bracci-Selvey, 14, was murdered by two of his fellow students on October 7, 2019. The boy was stabbed to death while waiting for his mother to pick him up outside Sir Winston Churchill School in Hamilton.
Today an 18-year-old and a 14-year-old were brought before a Hamilton courtroom to face charges of first-degree murder.
The Crown dropped the murder charge laid against the 18-year-old suspect. Investigators believed the 14-year-old suspect was the one who wielded the knife.
Four teens were arrested in total following the incident but two were later released without charge.
Shari-Ann, mother of 14-year-old Devan confirmed that she witnessed the stabbing herself in an interview with CP24 News.
Both of the suspect’s identities have been protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act that bans publications from printing the names of minors.
The 14-year-old suspect still has the charge of first-degree murder pending.
The murder has led to a review of anti-bullying procedures throughout the Hamilton-Wentworth School Board. Shari-Ann Bracci-Selvey said the bullying of her son was well documented and that the teachers at the school were aware of it. Devan would sometimes refuse to go to school as a result of his bullies his mother said.
Ontario is getting rid of the cap on the number of cannabis shops that can be owned by private retailers. CBC News has confirmed that the Ford government “will be issuing approximately 20 new cannabis store authorizations starting in April 2020.”
Attorney General Doug Downey issued a press release that read:
“In response to the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis, our government is determined to open the cannabis market as responsibly as possible. We have said all along that opening more legal stores is the most effective way to combat the illicit market, protect our kids and keep our communities safe.”
The new, retailer-friendly approach begins January 6th, when the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will start accepting applications from potential retailers.
Jack Moon, 33, died in a car accident just days after he had lost his house to a fire. The car accident was part of a multi-vehicle pileup on Highway 401 near Brockville.
He was the sole person to lose their life in Wednesday’s crash that came during a blizzard. He was identified by a family member and the OPP.
OPP told the Kingstonist that the collision happened near Brockville and was one of a total of 22 passenger vehicles damaged.
There have been a series of accidents along the highway between the Napanee and Brockville area. A separate thirty car pile-up happened near Napanee earlier this week. Fortunately, there were no fatalities.
Moon leaves behind his three children as well as another child yet to be born with his partner Krystiannah Summers.
Global News had interviewed Moon after his home was destroyed by the fire that killed two pets and left him and his family homeless on Dec. 2.
Krystiannah’s sister, Aisha Summers started a GoFundMe page with hopes to raise money for the Moon family. The Kingston community was quick to rally behind the family with donations. The page also confirmed Moon’s death
Moon’s Facebook page revealed that he travelled to Ottawa on Wednesday to get a passport. It is presumed he was returning to Kingston when the accident occurred.
The OPP is advising everyone to drive with caution over the holidays.
A raccoon was spotted on a city bus in London, Ontario last night around 8 pm. One passenger was able to snap a picture of the along route 19 in the Masonville area.
The LTC replied to the tweet saying,
No one quite knows how the little guy managed to board the bus and the LTC has yet to comment.
Word on the street is after failing to present a valid ticket he was asked to leave, begrudgingly he waddled off muttering something about the LTC.