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Police cast wide net, arrest 24 on drug-related charges

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In the midst of large-scale police investigations that lead to multiple arrests, sometimes innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time and soon have to confront criminal charges. Overcharging is another common problem in police investigations that cast a wide net. While there may be someone who committed a crime, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all parties involved should be charged with the same offence.

In any case, to convict someone, the prosecution must establish an evidentiary link between the accused and the alleged crime. The question of such a link is likely to arise in the cases of 24 people recently arrested in central Ontario.

According to reports, 22 search warrants were executed in early-morning raids on July 29. Most of the raids occurred in Durham Region, but others were carried out in Toronto, Bancroft, York Region, near Peterborough and in the area of Kawartha Lakes.

Police say an investigation called Project Bermuda commenced four months ago after drugs and weapons were seized at an Oshawa residence. Eventually 11 law enforcement agencies became involved, and now two dozen people are facing a total of 153 criminal charges.

Police claim to have seized marijuana, hashish and cocaine. Property was also seized, including a boat, nine vehicles, a trailer, some weapons and $100,000 in cash. The investigation was said to target drug sellers at the street level.

It remains to be seen how far each of the cases will proceed in the justice system. The Crown is obligated to withdraw criminal charges if there is no reasonable expectation of a conviction or if the public interest isn’t served by proceeding with the prosecution. A strong criminal defence may point out flaws in the prosecution’s evidence and clarify exactly why a criminal charge should be dropped.

Source: MyKawartha.com, “Two dozen face charges in central Ontario drug bust,” July 29, 2014

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