Investigators laid 96 criminal charges after recovering 52 vehicles worth more than $3.2 million stolen in Ontario.

The York Regional Police announced Monday that a group of individuals was targeting high-end vehicles and planning to traffic them as far away as Azerbaijan and Georgia in eastern Europe.

The group allegedly used residential areas to store vehicles that had recently been stolen out of the Greater Toronto Area and southwestern Ontario.

Six search warrants were executed in December 2023 and January 2024 in Vaughan, Toronto, London, Cambridge, and Bradford, recovering 52 vehicles. In turn, police charged eleven people with almost 100 criminal offences, including but not limited to theft of a motor vehicle and trafficking property obtained by crime.

The following suspects have been charged: Scarborough residents Zain Afzal, 20, and Arpan Dutta, 20; Newmarket resident Andrey Pokrovskiy, 57; Cambridge resident Mohammad Hadi, 35; London resident Darren Proulex; Branford resident Sanan Abbasov, 64; Kitchener resident Sadkoul Derman, 54; and Toronto residents Ibrahim Tairou, 32, Kamal El Hadji Dani, 46, Mina Pebenito, 31 and Shaibu Kooli, 34.

 

52 stolen vehicles have been recovered by York Regional Police. (YRP)

The investigation – dubbed Project Mamba – was a joint endeavour between the York Regional Police Auto Cargo Theft Unit, Canada Border Services Agency, and Équité Association.

The growing issue of stolen cars shipped abroad will be addressed at a national summit on Feb. 8. The meeting will bring together provinces and industry officials with the goal of stopping organized crime-related auto thefts.

Police across the Greater Toronto Area have seen carjackings soar 300 per cent since 2015.

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