Dixon Road neighbourhood linked to scandal surrounding Rob Ford
Police plan to boost their presence in the troubled Dixon Road area of northwest Toronto, an announcement that comes one day after a series of pre-dawn raids led to multiple arrests related to trafficking in guns and drugs.
“This is all about creating a safer neighbourhood,” said Deputy Chief Peter Sloly. “This neighbourhood was being victimized by a violent gang. We’re making sure that a new gang doesn’t form in the vacuum of the one that was dismantled.”
Police arrested 43 people in the raids on Thursday, including 19 in Toronto and nine in Windsor, Ont., as part of the anti-gang sweep dubbed Project Traveller.
Much of the Toronto operation focused on the area of Dixon Road between Kipling and Islington avenues, where police say a violent gang known as the Dixon Bloods or Dixon Goonies was involved in trafficking in both guns and drugs.
Police said Friday they will lay charges for about 300 serious offences, including murder, attempted murder and numerous drug and weapons trafficking charges.
Police displayed a sample of the weapons, drugs and cash seized in the sweep, and said the plan is to post uniformed officers in the neighbourhood.
“We’re not doing this in opposition to the community,” said Sloly. “We’re doing this in co-operation and co-ordination within the community. The vast majority of people in this community are good, decent hardworking people.”
The Dixon Road neighbourhood has been in the news almost daily since mid-May, when a news story broke about the existence of a video tape that is reported to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Thursday’s raid locations included a building at 320 Dixon Rd. that has been cited in reports as the place where the alleged video was said to have been stashed.
Ford has denied the video exists. So far, it has yet to surface.
Chief Blair won’t comment on any Ford connection
In morning interviews with CBC, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair again refused to comment on whether there are any connections between Thursday’s massive operation Rob Ford, saying any evidence collected during the investigation will only be revealed through the courts.
A house at 15 Windsor Rd., located steps away from 320 Dixon Rd., has also been central to the Ford story.
A now-infamous photo showing Ford standing with a group of young men was taken outside the house. One of the men in the photo, Anthony Smith, was shot dead outside a downtown Toronto nightclub in March. Another man in the same photo, Muhammad Khattak, was arrested as part of Thursday’s police operation.
Police said one of 28 suspects arrested in Thursday’s raids is facing a murder charge related to the shooting death of Smith.
CBC News obtained a court document listing some of the search warrants for Thursday’s raids. According to that document, police had obtained a search warrant for 15 Windsor Rd. But Blair said Thursday that house was not among the addresses searched as part of Project Traveller.
“The rule of law on this one is crystal clear,” Blair said Friday morning. “The evidence that we gather in our investigations is most, and only, appropriately presented publicly in a court of law, and so we’re going to follow those rules.”
Echoing comments made during a Thursday press conference announcing details of the raid, Blair said he could not comment further on the investigation, including whether Ford had a relationship with the men in the photo or whether police had seized the alleged video.
Blair said the timing of the raid had nothing to do with the allegations against Ford that have caused upheaval at City Hall over the last few weeks.
“I am well aware of the public’s intense interest in aspects of this situation, but at the same time I think the public interest is best served by dismantling that criminal organization, by protecting the safety of that community,” he said.