Windsor, Ontario — Canada’s automotive capital just went through what the OPP are calling a major cleanup of a “sophisticated crime group” allegedly responsible for stealing, re-VINing and exporting vehicles to at least five different countries.
Thus far, 23 people have racked up a cumulative total of 279 charges as part of “Project Fairfield”, initiated by the Windsor Police Service (WPS) in April 2022.
On July 26, a joint operation involving WPS, as well as London, Peel, York and Toronto police services led to the seizure of 138 stolen vehicles and more than $500,000 in illegal drugs.
The WPS’s Thursday media release claimed that the individuals involved in this crime group had been stealing and re-VINing vehicles in Southern Ontario for the purpose of export to other countries, which the release identified as United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Republic of Columbia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Police say the total value of the stolen vehicles is more than $9 million, and that they were of a wide-range of makes and models, from luxury vehicles to pickup trucks.
The sting also came with the seizure of a small pharmacy’s worth of drugs, including 1,050 methamphetamine tablets, 4.9 pounds of cannabis, 1.1 pounds of cannabis concentrate, 320 grams of cocaine, as well as $144,635 in Canadian currency and $26,698 United States currency.
“Auto theft is impacting communities across Ontario, and Project Fairfield has demonstrated that a collaborative approach is required to bring sophisticated criminal groups to justice,” OPP Deputy Commissioner Marty Kearns in a statement.
“While this investigation pre-dates the development of the OPP-led Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team, it certainly speaks to the importance of its mandate. Law enforcement agencies will continue to work with the CBSA and strategic partners, such as Équité Association, to combat auto theft and fraud in the automotive industry.”