15 alleged members of crime ring arrested after $9M of cargo, dozens of trucks stolen

People arrested range in age from 22 to 45 years old, face 73 charges in total

Fifteen people who were allegedly part of an organized theft ring have been arrested after $9 million worth of cargo and tractor trailers were stolen across the Greater Toronto Area, investigators said Wednesday.

Police in Halton Region, Peel, York Region and Toronto, as well as provincial police and officers patrolling Canadian borders began surveilling the alleged ring last year as cargo and car thefts spiked across the province.

Peel Regional Police Det. Mark Haywood said officers discovered the same group of suspects had targeted cargos of various sizes and 28 tractor trailers in six GTA locations by breaking through fences and driving away with the trucks or stealing trucks pulled over on the side of the road.

“They were entering a lot of the facilities … [They would] cut the fence, go in, steal the product, steal a truck usually and drive over the fence,” Haywood said during a news conference.

“Some were taken from truck stops, some were taken from roadside,” while the truck drivers were on breaks or sleeping, he added.

Three side by side images show cargo on two tractor ttrailers, and a seadoo.
Peel Regional Police released these images of cargo recovered as a result of Project Big Rig. (Peel Regional Police)

Investigators said the stolen cargo included various commercial goods, ATVs, and vehicles, which the suspects then allegedly sold at various flea markets and stores.

Nick Milinovich, the deputy chief of Peel police’s investigative and emergency services said several of those arrested were repeat offenders.

Approximately $1.8 million worth of goods travels through Ontario every day, he said, and organized theft of cars and cargo “often involves drugs and guns that are then directed toward our communities.”

“This type of organized criminal activity has no jurisdictional boundaries,” he said.

“The recovered cargo and vehicles through this investigation have removed millions of dollars out of the hands of organized crime.”

Milinovich asked truck drivers to stay vigilant as police investigate such crimes.

Haywood said those who were arrested are from different cities in the GTA and range in ages from 22 to 45 years old.

They are charged with 73 offences combined, according to a Peel police press release.

 Haywood says more arrests should be expected later this year in cargo and auto thefts.