July 21, 2024

OPP, U.S. Homeland Security team up for largest gun bust in Ontario history

16 arrested, 279 charges laid after 274 weapons seized during Project SAXOM

The largest ever seizure of handguns and assault-style rifles in Ontario led to 16 arrests and 279 charges, while a St. Catharines man remains at large.

The OPP-led Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit (PWEU) and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized 274 illegal firearms, including 168 in the U.S. and 106 in Ontario, police said in a news release on Thursday.

Both agencies opened an investigation in early 2023 into two people who were seeking to traffic firearms in the GTA. Project SAXOM was initiated by the PWEU in Ontario with help from HSI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Project Dual Approach started south of the border, led by the HSI Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) Buffalo with help from HSI Miami, PWEU and the ATF.

“The criminal network sought to establish a firearm smuggling pipeline from the United States, specifically Florida, into Ontario, Canada, utilizing international ports of entry in Buffalo, Niagara Region,” HSI special agent Matthew Scarpino said during a news conference at OPP headquarters in Orillia.

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