A months-long investigation by Peel
Regional Police dubbed ‘Project Baron’ has allegedly yielded $1.2
million worth of illicit drugs and multiple power firearms.
This is the biggest firearms seizure in the force’s history and is a result of a collaboration effort with agencies in Toronto as well as the Canada Border Services Agency as a single suspect became the primary focus.
According to CTV News, the investigation began back in January as a probe into drug trafficking. Months after, on March 21, police across the GTA searched addresses and vehicles associated with the accused.
In total, six search warrants were executed across Peel and Toronto. Resulting in the seizure of the following:
- 26 firearms (16 Handguns, 4 Shotguns, 6 Rifles)
- High capacity magazines (2 – banana clips, 1 -.40 calibre high capacity handgun drum magazine)
- 1,500 rounds of ammunition
- A large quantity of Canadian currency
- 3.5 kilograms of cocaine
- 2 kilograms of methamphetamine
- 1 kilogram of heroin
- 1 kilogram of fentanyl
- 311 grams of psilocybin (mushrooms)
- 1 bullet-proof vest
The suspect has been identified as
35-year-old Salem Talke. He faces more than 60 different charges
related to firearms and drugs.
He has been charged with 12 counts of Drug Trafficking and Drug Possession offences, 48 counts of Firearm related offences, and 2 counts of Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.
“I can speak to one firearm coming off the street and the amount of damage that can cause both to persons and the illicit drug trade… 26 firearms, I think the impact is astronomical as far as public safety is concerned,” Acting Det. Sgt. Chad Lines said at Tuesday’s news conference.
“Our investigation is continuing into
the firearms as to how involved his network – or if there is a
network involved – would be with the firearms, but you’re not
entrusted with this amount of drugs and firearms if you aren’t a
higher lever criminal operator,” he added.
Lines explained that most of the drugs and firearms were located in trap compartments installed in vehicles.
“They’re operated on hydraulics, so there’s a series of switches or mechanisms that open it up,” Lines said. “If you were to walk by one, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that there was something hidden within it.”
The investigation is far from over. “With this number of firearms, the follow up investigation is enormous,” Lines added.
Talke will be appearing in court in the “near future”. He was classified as a “mid-to-high level drug trafficker”.