KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario government says it is investing $75.1 million to reinforce the fight against gun and gang violence in communities across the province. The funding will support initiatives that will dismantle criminal activity, enhance investigative supports, increase collaboration throughout the justice sector and stop the flow of illegal guns across the border.
“Gun and gang violence will not be allowed to thrive in Ontario” said Premier Doug Ford. “We will do everything in our power to support our frontline policing personnel and justice sector so they have the resources and supports needed to tackle illegal activity. We will spare no expense to keep our communities and kids safe today, tomorrow and for years to come.”
Building on Ontario’s Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy, this three-year investment will include:
- Establishing the Office of Illicit Drug Intelligence to disrupt the drug supply chain coming into Ontario and provide enhanced investigative support to identify and prevent cross-border drugs, guns, and human trafficking
- Enhancing support for gun and gang specialized investigations to assist with firearms analysis and tracing enforcement, allowing for the timely identification of gun traffickers, their networks, and their smuggling routes
- Creating a new Gun and Gang Mobile Prosecution Unit to prosecute major gun and gang cases from the moment charges are laid in priority regions across the province
- Creating a provincewide joint analytics working group to enhance the ability among police services to collect and share information on gun and gang activity and trends
- Increasing the presence of Border Enforcement Security Teams in Ontario to curtail the flow of illegal firearms entering the province
- Supporting provincial Joint Forces Operations to formalize collaboration among jurisdictions in response to information and intelligence
- Creating a provincial database of gun and gang activity to ensure consistency in the classification of relevant data and enhance information flow to combat gangs.
“These strategic initiatives will help to effectively disrupt gang activities and the revenue streams that fund criminal activity including drug and human trafficking,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “There is no place for gun violence or other illegal activity anywhere in our province and we will provide our frontline officers with the tools they need to keep our communities safe.”
Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario data indicates a strong correlation between street gangs, gun violence as well as drug and human trafficking according to the government. Almost half (48 per cent) of all firearm traffickers are street gangs, and 90 per cent of identified street gangs use firearms to promote their criminal activities. More than half (52 per cent) of crime groups involved in human trafficking started out as street gangs.
“As investigations and prosecutions of dangerous criminal networks grow increasingly complex, we are taking measures to ensure police and prosecutors have the tools and resources they need to hold offenders accountable and stand up for victims as they seek justice,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “Mobilizing expert experienced Crown Prosecutors, the new Gun and Gang Mobile Prosecution Unit will address complex cases in priority regions across Ontario.”
From 2020 to 2021, the number of street gangs involved in the opioid market more than doubled from 16 per cent to 36 per cent and tripled from five per cent to 18 per cent in the methamphetamine market.
Officials say based on work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the number of Canada-USA cross-border investigations into guns involved in crimes has increased by 88 per cent between 2017 and 2020 and 52 per cent between Oct. 1, 2020 and Oct. 1 2021.