Halton police help Australians halt alleged Chilean crime syndicate
OAKVILLE — Halton police say they’ve assisted Australian authorities in smashing an alleged Chilean crime syndicate, which was previously active in Halton and across the GTA.
The group first came to the attention of Halton police in late 2017, when officers began noticing an increase in residential break-ins in the region.
The suspects — which included both men and women — would break up into groups of two to four and randomly target homes.
Police said that one person would knock at the home’s front door to see if anyone was home.
“We estimate that approximately 70 families have been victimized by having their homes broken into here in Halton in the last couple of months,” said Halton police Chief Stephen Tanner during an April 4, 2018, news conference.
“Probably close to 400 residences were victimized across Toronto.”
A Halton police investigation resulted in four search warrants being executed in Mississauga and Toronto in late March 2018.
During these raids, police made 15 arrests and recovered $2.7 million worth of property allegedly stolen during the break-ins.
Police said that all of those arrested were Chilean nationals who came to Canada on tourist visas.
Det. Sgt. Paul Foley said three of these suspects are being held pending trial, one is being held pending extradition to New York City, six have been deported back to Chile and five are being held pending deportation.
He said that although 15 people being arrested, there were still other members of this alleged break-and-enter ring at large whom Halton police had issued arrest warrants for.
It was during the course of investigating the whereabouts of these individuals that Halton police discovered social media posts that indicated these people were now in Sydney, Australia.
“Out of courtesy to the Australian authorities, one of our investigators contacted them and basically gave them the heads up. Made them aware of our project and our investigation, and informed them that we thought some of these individuals were in their country,” said Foley. “They took it from there.” The Australian authorities apparently put the information from Halton police to good use.
Throughout November and December 2018, the New South Wales police made eight arrests in connection with 80 break-ins to homes, which had taken place across Sydney during September, October and November 2018.
Police said that all those arrested are Chilean nationals.
Australian media reported that $1.2 million worth of luxury goods were stolen during these break-ins.
Australian police alleged that the group targeted homes and luxury stores in Sydney, and then sent the stolen goods to a man and woman in Melbourne — who would send the products back to Chile.
“What they were doing there was almost exactly what they were doing here,” said Foley.
He said three of those arrested in Australia are wanted for crimes in Halton. It is unclear at this time if Halton police will seek to extradite them.
Halton police deputy chief Nishan Duraiappah took to social media on Jan. 10 praising the international co-operation, which led to the arrests of these suspects overseas.
News of the arrests in Australia was also well-received by Foley. “Obviously, we are quite pleased,” he said.
It is unclear if this alleged syndicate has now been fully dismantled, or if it continues to operate in other countries.