Quebec provincial police (SQ) say there have been over 30 arrests, 40 searches, and multiple seizures in their operation against organized crime in eastern Quebec.

One of the alleged leaders of a targeted criminal organization is still on the run abroad, police noted at a press conference on Thursday.

Law enforcement authorities were drawing up a general portrait of the ongoing operation.

"This morning, we were down to about 32 [arrests]," said Michel Patenaude, the SQ's criminal investigations director.

"The more visible presence [of police] will end in the coming days, however investigations are continuing," he added. "There will be more arrests in the coming months and weeks."

The joint offensive by the SQ and police forces in Quebec City, Lévis and Saguenay was launched following a kidnapping in Saguenay and a fatal hostage-taking in Saint-Malachie, Beauce.

In particular, police are targeting a gang called the Blood Family Mafia, whose leader, Dave "Pic" Turmel, is still on the loose and has been wanted by Quebec City police since July 2023 following an operation launched in February 2019 to counter a rise in drug-related violence. According to some reports, Turmel is hiding out in Europe.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 29, 2024.