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ServiceOntario Employees Among 28 Charged After Police Recover Hundreds Of Stolen Cars

The cars are valued at $12 million dollars.

Toronto Associate Editor
Some of the stolen vehicles OPP recovered in Project MYRA.

Some of the stolen vehicles OPP recovered in Project MYRA.

Over 200 stolen vehicles were found by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in a lengthy investigation that dismantled three auto-theft-based criminal organizations, resulting in 28 people being charged.

In a news release issued on July 28, OPP shared the details of Project MYRA, started by the Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB), Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau (POIB) and Équité Association nearly two years ago in September 2020.

An overview of Project MYRA.An overview of Project MYRA.Ontario Provincial Police

The investigation uncovered an auto theft ring that was allegedly altering the stolen vehicles' ID numbers (VINs) to redistribute them through private sales later.

Police recovered 214 vehicles during their investigation, which they say are valued at more than $12 million altogether. While there was a wide range of stolen vehicles, including some luxury cars like a Lamborghini Urus, the investigation found that over a third of them were Hondas or Acuras.

Of the 28 people charged in the investigation, some ServiceOntario employees "are accused of assisting with the illegitimate registration of stolen vehicles." However, police didn't share exactly how many employees were supposedly involved.

The suspects came from two different provinces

While the thefts mainly happened in Ontario, OPP said that two people from Saskatchewan are also connected to the thefts.

Two suspects are from Saskatoon, while the rest are from various cities across Ontario like Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Brampton and Vaughan, among others. Their ages range from 24 to 59, and among all 28 of them, over 240 charges were laid.

A total of 44 search warrants were executed in Saskatoon, Waterloo, Toronto, York and Peel regions and police found six firearms, 230 grams of suspected fentanyl, 1,840 grams of suspected cocaine, 77 kilograms of cannabis, 150 grams of suspected cannabis resin and 10 grams of suspected psilocybin.

Police also seized a significant amount of cash in both Canadian and American currency, valued at CA$160,000 and US$8,400. They also found two laser marking machines and two money counters.

The criminal organizations allegedly involved

Project MYRA also identified three auto theft-based criminal organizations. One in Peel Region, which they say was responsible for changing the VINs to resell the cars later and another in York Region running a similar operation but for high-end vehicles, which they allegedly either sold or kept for themselves.

Another criminal organization based in Durham Region and Toronto was allegedly 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." Yikes.

Investigators are continuing to identify and find re-vinned cars tied to these criminal organizations, and they say the investigation is ongoing.

OPP also warned the public to be careful when buying a car from 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," a news release reads.

"Buyers should be suspicious of a private seller who will not provide identification or who insists on receiving cash as payment."

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