KAWARTHA LAKES-Police have recovered 214 stolen vehicles, drugs, guns and cash in a multi-jurisdictional and inter-provincial investigation into the fraudulent modification and sale of hundreds of stolen vehicles.
“Project Myra has demonstrated that law enforcement shares the collective goal of pursuing criminals who threaten the peace of mind and safety of those we strive to protect. Congratulations to all involved partners. Well done, and keep up the good work.” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique
Several residents of Ontario and Saskatchewan are facing Criminal Code charges.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB), Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau (POIB) and Équité Association (Équité) began Project MYRA in September 2020, after uncovering an auto theft network fraudulently modifying stolen vehicles’ identification numbers (VINs) to later sell them through private sales. Police say these thefts occurred mainly in Ontario.
At this time, police have recovered 214 vehicles valued at more than $12 million dollars.
Through further investigation, police say the Project MYRA team identified three auto theft-based criminal organizations involved in these thefts:
- A criminal organization based in Peel Region responsible for re-vinning (altering VINs) vehicles stolen from Ontario, fraudulently registering the vehicles and reselling these vehicles.
- A criminal organization based in Durham Region and Toronto responsible for fraudulently registering stolen vehicles in Saskatchewan, transferring the fraudulent vehicle documentation to Ontario, registering the vehicles in Ontario and reselling these vehicles to various individuals, including criminal networks.
- A criminal organization based in York Region responsible for re-vinning high-end stolen vehicles, fraudulently registering the stolen vehicles, then reselling or keeping those vehicles.
A joint-forces investigative team was formed including the OPP Biker Enforcement Unit, the OPP Organized Crime Towing Industry Project, Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS), Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS), Peel Regional Police (PRP), Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) and York Regional Police (YRP). The Toronto Police Service, the Ottawa Police Service, the Windsor Police Service, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery have also supported this investigation.
A wide range of stolen vehicle makes and models have been recovered, including high-end vehicles. Honda/Acura has accounted for 37 per cent of vehicles recovered according to investigators.
Police say some of those charged are employees of ServiceOntario who are accused of assisting with the illegitimate registration of stolen vehicles.
Throughout the investigation, police executed 27 search warrants in various locations with assistance of members from the investigative team as well as TPS, OPS and WPS.
On July 19 and 20, 2022, the OPP OCEB, Community Street Crime Units, Emergency Response Team, Highway Safety Division and Digital Forensics, with assistance from Équité, DRPS, HRPS, PRP, SPS, MTO, Waterloo Regional Police Service and YRP, executed an additional 17 search warrants in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Waterloo and Saskatoon.
Police say collectively, a total of 44 warrants have been executed resulting in the seizure of:
- Six firearms
- 230 grams suspected fentanyl
- 1,840 grams suspected cocaine
- 77 kilograms cannabis
- 150 grams suspected cannabis resin
- 10 grams suspected psilocybin
- $8,400 US currency
- $160,000 CAD currency
- Two money counters
- Two laser marking machines
Twenty-eight people have been charged with 242 offences, including charges related to the Criminal Code, the Cannabis Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Upon arrest, five of the accused were held in custody. The remaining were released and are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Peel Region and Saskatchewan Court in Saskatoon on various dates in July and August 2022.
Project MYRA has been an extensive operation, and police continue to identify and locate re-vinned vehicles associated to these criminal organizations. The investigation is ongoing.
Police say members of the public should be cautious when purchasing a vehicle through a private sale. Buyers should ensure they retrieve as much information as possible on both the vehicle and the seller and perform due diligence in advance of providing any funds to the seller. Buyers should be suspicious of a private seller who will not provide identification or who insists on receiving cash as payment
“Citizens of Ontario deserve to have peace of mind when it comes to making a purchase as large as a vehicle. The criminal organizations involved in Project Myra have tarnished that. We want to take this opportunity to remind everyone to be extremely cautious and use judgement and discretion when purchasing a used vehicle. If any part of the transaction, or anything leading up to the transaction seems suspicious, do not provide funds. Contact law enforcement.” says OPP Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox, Provincial Commander, Investigations and Organized Crime.
Here is the list of those charged: https://www.opp.ca/protonapi/files/62e1a7e0ce398f42e601109c