Crown prosecutors have stayed charges for six people involved in high-profile violence between rival tow-truck companies in the Greater Toronto Area, despite being accused of more than 70 criminal acts of arson, murder, and property damage.
In February 2020, the York Regional Police (YRP) launched Project Platinum in response to violence and criminal activities between the towing companies. Police say the conflict led to arsons, assaults, murders, attempted murders, threats, and property damage.
In May 2020, YRP announced 20 arrests as part of the investigation with support from the Ontario Provincial Police, the Toronto Police Service, and the Canada Revenue Agency.
But earlier this month, Crown prosecutors withdrew charges against six people who were being tried as a group, according to a CBC News report.
Criminal lawyer Jag Virk, who represented one of the accused, told CBC that the Crown had previously withdrawn several firearm offences against his client, and proceeded to stay all remaining charges against the six defendants two weeks ago in the Ontario Court of Justice.
Virk said the charges were stayed after the Crown was ordered to disclose information based on a phone wiretap warrant that was redacted in a previous version provided to the defence. But the Crown refused, saying that in doing so, it would expose the identity of an informant.
Despite the collapse of the case, the operation remains effective in curbing street violence and reducing crime in the GTA tow-truck industry, YRP Const. Laura Nicolle told CBC.
“We are proud of the fact Project Platinum halted the significant street-level violence that was plaguing our community in the months leading up to the arrests,” Nicolle said. “These efforts resulted in a substantial decrease in violence connected to the tow truck industry.”