A 32-year-old woman pleaded guilty to seven gun-related charges in a Toronto courtroom on Monday, the latest in a series of guilty pleas following a sweeping investigation that stretched as far as Jamaica and included some of the city's most prolific gun and drug dealers.
Lisa Parmanand, 32, pleaded guilty to seven charges involving the possession and distribution of guns, including a Mac-11 machine pistol and several handguns. Parmanand had a charge of participating in a criminal organization withdrawn, but still received a 10-year sentence, minus six years for time served.
Her arrest stemmed from Project Fusion, the Toronto police investigation launched in August 2008 after a rash of murders and shootings in the Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue area of east Toronto.
More than a dozen other people have also pleaded guilty recently to serious gun or drug charges and sentenced to lengthy jail terms in connection with the investigation.
As Project Fusion unfolded, the court was told, police received judicial approval to wiretap phone conversations of mid-level drug dealers and weapons suppliers. Those wiretaps led to the discovery of bigger players in Toronto's criminal underworld.
That included men and women who supplied millions of dollars worth of cocaine and marijuana to street gangs, as well as a gun ring that smuggled guns from Atlanta to Toronto.
In Parmanand's case, the court was told the weapons were purchased near Atlanta and smuggled into Canada across the Queenston Bridge at Niagara Falls.
Police stage 'break-in'
The police went to great lengths to get Parmanand's weapons.
Court was told Parmanand was caught on wiretaps arranging the purchase of guns and driving them to a so-called 'safe house' on Glennanna Road in Pickering.
Wanting the guns but fearing they would tip off the larger investigation, police received judicial authorization to stage a break-in at the Glennanna Road home. Four undercover police officers kicked in the door of the home on March 26, 2009, then fled when they spotted a man inside.
Minutes later, a patrol car was dispatched to the home under the pretense that neighbours had called regarding the attempted break-in.
The man inside was coaxed outside and asked to sit in a police cruiser and give police a description of those involved in the break-in. As he did that, the undercover officers re-entered the home and seized the weapons that had been hidden in the ceiling of the home's basement.
The suspect, court was told, had no idea police had entered the home and snatched the weapons.
The investigation continued and on April 1, 2009, Toronto police and other law enforcement agencies staged a series of pre-dawn raids, arresting more than 100 suspects, including the alleged leaders of a gun and drug distribution network.
Police allege Jamaica links
One of the people convicted is also believed to have been importing 20 kilos of cocaine a week into Toronto through connections in Jamaica.
Police allege some of those arrested had ties to Jamaica's most notorious gang: The Shower Posse. The posse's leader, Christopher Coke, was arrested in Jamaica in 2010 and extradited to the U.S.
The manhunt for Coke sparked all-out gun battles in Jamaica's capital, Kingston, leaving two police officers and 73 civilians dead. Coke will be sentenced in New York later this month. Prosecutors allege Coke's gang was responsible for 1,400 murders in the U.S., and also supplied the Eastern Seaboard with cocaine and marijuana.