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Police in Laval, Montreal join forces to fight arsons, extortions linked to organized crime

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Three major police forces are uniting to launch Projet Mèche, a joint investigation to fight organized crime in Montreal, Laval and North Shore communities.

The recent flare-up of crime targets local, culturally-specific businesses, police say. The offences range from arson and threats to armed assaults, extortion and even gunshots. In the past 12 months, police say there have been 67 incidents reported, mainly in Montreal and Laval.

"This violence will not be tolerated," said Kimon Christopoulos, a major crime inspector with the Laval police and spokesperson for Projet Mèche, during a media briefing on Thursday.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ), the Montreal police service (SPVM), and the Laval police service (SPL) said they noticed similarities in the cases. Now, they are joining forces in the hopes of putting an end to violent crimes against business owners.

So far, police have made 19 arrests. Charges have also been laid, including possession of weapons and ammunition, extortion, assault with a weapon, arson, possession of drugs and breach of a condition.

"The exchange of information, which is crucial to our investigations, will make a real impact and is making a real impact on our investigations and on the field," Christopoulos said.

Additional investigations are underway, according to police, who say the alleged victims in these cases appear to come from one community.

"We have very big Arab communities here in Laval and Montreal. They are the ones that are targeted," the Laval inspector said.

Police suspect the alleged perpetrators are targeting their own.

"It's the organized crime that's behind this … so that's another link that we saw. And they're using gangs to do the work," Christopoulos said.

In Laval, the hot spot is the Chomedey district. In Montreal, it's the borough of Saint-Laurent. Police are urging everyone in these areas to contact police with tips to assist investigators.

"Our merchants and our citizens are our eyes and ears on the field. They have to communicate with us, they have to contact us," Christopoulos said.

"If they have information, they have to give it to us."

Anyone who has information about incidents relating to the investigation is asked to contact the relevant police service.

  • Laval police: 450-662-INFO (4636)
  • Montreal police: 911 or Info-Crime Montreal at 514-393-1133
  • SQ Criminal Information Centre: 1-800-659-4264

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