A Ramara Township resident is among 20 people charged during an investigation into organized crime and the tow truck industry.
According to the York Regional Police, the charges were laid in relation to a string of violence, property damage, fraud and drug trafficking.
“The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has been the scene of violence between rival tow truck companies who have been fighting over financial profits from the towing of vehicles and, the most significant source of profit, the frauds following the initial tow,” reads a media release.
“The competition for control of the towing market has resulted in murders, attempted murders, assaults, arsons, threats and property damage.”
In response to the organized criminal activity, a joint-forces investigation dubbed Project Platinum got underway in February 2020.
“This ongoing investigation has identified several organized crime groups working within the towing industry who have used violence and property damage as a means to gain control and territory within the industry,” reads a media release.
Police said the investigation revealed that Paramount Towing (owned and operated by Alexander Vinogradsky) along with other rival towing groups have been involved in defrauding insurance companies with vehicles involved in collisions and staged collisions.
“The tow companies partnered with auto repair shops, as well as car and truck rental companies, to carry out their frauds. Insurance companies worked to mitigate the fraud and additional costs to the consumer and actively pursued legal action against various tow companies,” the media release reads.
“One law firm – Carr Law, which had been located in the City of Vaughan and was hired by the insurance companies – became the target of violence, threats and extortion.”
Officers executed more than two dozen search warrants as part of the investigation in recent weeks.
Evidence seized in the search warrants include:
– Eleven tow trucks;
– Firearms: 16 handguns, 13 shotguns, nine rifles, one machine gun, one air pistol converted to .22 calibre pistol, one sawed-off shotgun and three high-capacity drum magazines
– Ammunition: Thousands of rounds of various calibres
– Weapons: Two conductive energy weapons, brass knuckles
– Drugs: Five kilograms of fentanyl, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1.25 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of cannabis
– Currency: More than $500,000
For a full list of those charged, click HERE.