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Police make 9 arrests, seize 21 stolen vehicles from Montreal area

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On the same day the federal government announced millions of dollars in the fight against car theft, police said they dealt a "heavy blow" to a stolen vehicle export network in Montreal.

The illegal operation targeted luxury vehicles and pickup trucks stolen from several locations — a car rental company and public parking lots, including the one at Montreal Trudeau airport — and were later destined for resale overseas, according to Montreal police.

About 60 officers from multiple police forces were involved in the investigation that ended with nine men between the ages of 27 and 64 in handcuffs Wednesday morning after several searches were conducted in Montreal and other locations north of the city in the Lanaudière region, including Mascouche, Terrebonne, Saint-Esprit, Saint-Félix-de-Valois, Sainte-Julienne and Saint-Lin.

About 60 police officers were involved in an operation targeting stolen vehicles, according to Montreal police. (Source: SPVM)

The suspects are expected to appear in court Wednesday and Thursday to face several charges, including motor vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, breaking and entering, trafficking in property obtained by crime, and possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, police said.

The charges relate to 55 vehicle thefts, including 37 on the Island of Montreal. Of those thefts, 21 vehicles worth $1.7 million have been seized. One-third of the vehicles were stolen at the airport.

The targeted vehicles include several models: Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, Dodge Durango, Ford F150, Dodge RAM.

Several stolen vehicles were seized by Montreal police on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, including Ford F150s, Dodge RAMs, and GMC Yukons. (Source: SPVM)

Investigators also seized two loaded handguns, more than $40,000 in cash, tools used to steal vehicles, one ounce of cocaine and eight pounds of marijuana.

About 70 per cent of the cars recovered after being stolen come from Ontario, according to Police Chief Fady Dagher, who says Montreal police are committed to fighting the scourge of auto theft in the city, a Canadian hot spot for car thieves.

However, CTV News reported earlier this week that the efforts of Montreal police to tackle the issue in another similar case ended up with the alleged criminals walking free. After a judge ruled the length of time to complete the trial for three men accused of operating a car theft ring in Montreal was unreasonable, he issued a stay of proceedings.

Montreal police had spent one month cracking the case.

Federal public safety minister Dominic Leblanc said it was "unacceptable" for criminal cases to be tossed out due to court delays — an issue he said the justice minister is trying to address.

"There are pressures on these resources across the country," he said Wednesday at a news conference in Montreal.

"We'll continue to look at all of the instruments necessary to make sure that the judicial system from the judges, to the prosecutors, to the defence lawyers doesn't become a barrier to do the work that we've all just talked about now."

Dagher said he was also concerned about the justice system being equipped to handle such cases. He said he believes the Quebec government's recent announcement of new judges will help prevent cases from falling through the cracks.

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