While Toronto Police stay silent on what they may have netted in a massive drug raid Thursday, the hacking collective known as Anonymous appears to be on the trail of the alleged Rob Ford video.
A tweet from the group's news feed suggests the video, purportedly showing the Toronto mayor smoking crack cocaine, is in Alberta.
Last month, news site Gawker dropped a bombshell, claiming to have seen a smartphone video of the Toronto mayor smoking what the site described as crack cocaine from a glass pipe.
Additionally, two Toronto Star reporters also say they have seen the video -- which was being peddled to media, apparently by drug dealers who had secretly produced it. The alleged video has since disappeared, along with its creators, according to Gawker.
For his part, Ford has repeatedly denied the video's existence and says he does not use crack.
But the allegations have continued to dog the mayor, especially in light of this week's mass arrests in Toronto's west end.
According to the Toronto Star, police descended on six towers lining the north side of Dixon Rd., just east of Kipling Ave early Thursday morning -- not far from where Ford was photographed with three young men in front of a house at 15 Windsor Rd.
The photo is contentious for several reasons: It was provided to Gawker and The Star reporters who viewed the alleged crack video by the same men trying to sell the footage. The photo shows Ford with three men. One of them, Anthony Smith, was shot dead outside a Toronto nightclub two months ago.
The other two men in the photo were among 43 people arrested Thursday. Seizures included 40 firearms, $3 million in drugs and more than half a million dollars in cash. And a certain much-talked about video?
“All of the evidence has been secured and it will come out in court where it belongs,” Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We will not jeopardize this case.”
The police chief was pressed repeatedly on the possible tape at the presser, fielding question after question about its existence -- and, in another twist, the possibility that Ford's name came up in police surveillance recordings from the targeted neighbourhood.
CTV News has cited a highly placed, unnamed source claiming the tape's existence was known to Toronto police before Gawker story broke.
CTV suggests police overheard suspects discussing the video in detail over wiretaps, during the year-long prelude to the raids.
Blair refused to comment on any evidence, citing the law and his hope for a clean prosecution. But he also made no effort to exonerate the mayor, which left several media outlets to read between the lines.
"I don't answer to the mayor," he told reporters during a post-raid press conference Thursday.
For his part, the mayor spoke briefly to reporters before going into a city council meeting, the National Post reports.
"Okay, my cable was out, I know as much as you guys know," he said. "I got into the car this morning, reporters were at my house. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about until I got into the car."
The raids also involved other Ontario cities, including Windsor, Guelph and Waterloo.
The Toronto Star reports on another potential wrinkle in this saga -- one developing in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
That's where police arrested a man linked to the alleged video in May, the newspaper reports. It's also where another young man fell six storeys from the same apartment on the day of the Toronto raids. That man, Hanad Mohamed of Toronto, was charged with first-degree murder in the March 28 fatal shooting of Anthony Smith (who appears in the photograph with Rob Ford), the Globe and Mail reports.
If there is an Alberta connection to the alleged video, Anonymous claims to be zeroing in on it -- perhaps looking to be a little more forthcoming with the results of their hunt than law enforcement seems, so far, to be.
It wouldn't be the first time, the hacking collective has intervened in Toronto politics.
During the Occupy movement in 2011, Anonymous issued Ford a warning about cracking down on protesters.
"The brave citizens of Toronto are peaceful and well-mannered occupiers, and we will not let the City or the mayor that uses vulgar language in public get involved," a computer-generated voice said in a YouTube video. "You have said by next week, the occupiers shall be removed. And we say be next week if you do not change your mind, you shall be removed from the Internet. We have already planned for this."
'Wrecking Ball' Ford
Check out <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfXPPjCMLOI" target="_blank">the soundtrack</a>. <a href="http://imgur.com/pDO1anT" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>
Drinking And Driving
We saw that, Rob. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/let-wrecking-ball-show-you-the-true-beauty-of-rob-ford" target="_blank">From Buzzfeed</a>
Ford blows us a kiss. <a href="http://twitchy.com/2013/11/08/the-gif-that-keeps-on-gifing-15-hilarious-must-see-rob-ford-moments/" target="_blank">From Twitchy</a>
Ford vs. Hulk Hogan
We still can't believe he won, either. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/let-wrecking-ball-show-you-the-true-beauty-of-rob-ford" target="_blank">From Buzzfeed</a>
<a href="http://o.canada.com/news/rob-ford-toronto-summer-of-ford/" target="_blank">Best summer ever</a>. <a href="http://i.imgur.com/AiflEHJ.gif" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>
He's got the moves like Jagger.. He's got the moves like Jagger. <a href="http://www.postcity.com/Eat-Shop-Do/Do/November-2012/In-tribute-of-GIF-being-the-word-of-the-year-heres-our-favourite-Toronto-GIFs/" target="_blank">From PostCity</a>
Invisible defenders take down the mayor with an invisible tackle.
Foiled By The Jedi
<a href="http://i.imgur.com/JrKal.gif" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>
Falling Off The Scale
Did we mention this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/12/rob-ford-ballet-nutcracker-toronto_n_1143708.html" target="_blank">man once performed in a ballet</a>? From <a href="http://robfordfalls.tumblr.com/">Rob Ford Falls Tumblr</a>
That's one way to deal with reporters. <a href="http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/misc/ford-ani/all-ani.html">From Ford For Toronto by Matt Elliott</a>
Muhahahahaha <a href="http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/misc/ford-ani/all-ani.html">From Ford For Toronto by Matt Elliott</a>
Maniacal Laugh II
Muhahahahahahahahahahaha <a href="http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/misc/ford-ani/all-ani.html">From Ford For Toronto by Matt Elliott</a>
Robbie Boo Boo
<a href="http://www.cbc.ca/22minutes/videos/clips---season-20/robbie-boo-boo.html" target="_blank">"22 Minutes" strikes again</a>. From <a href="http://thishourhas22minutes.tumblr.com/post/34114355293/22-minutes-discovers-mayor-rob-fords-new-honey">This Hour Has 22 Minutes</a>
Who needs words when you can just <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/02/rob-ford-vomit-noise-video_n_3001086.html" target="_blank">pretend to vomit</a>? <a href="http://imgur.com/gwV7q2h" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>
Time For His Close-Up
Rob Ford proves you can run <em>from</em> the media, you can run <em>into</em> the media, and sometimes, you can do both at the same time. <a href="http://imgur.com/r/funny/nATPNJb" target="_blank">GIF from Imgur</a>
Bonus image. Want. <a href="http://imgur.com/xtxz2" target="_blank">Thank you Imgur</a>
NEXT: The Many Faces Of Ford
Toronto Rob Ford, right, gestures to Councillor Paul Ainslee in the council chamber as councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Blasting what he called a "coup d'etat," Ford said voters should be able to pass judgment on him, not his fellow councillors.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (centre) dances with participants ahead of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto on Saturday July 30, 2011.
Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford, left, celebrates after defeating wrestler Hulk Hogan in an arm-wrestling match to promote Fan Expo in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 .
Twenty-two month-old Micah MacMilan reacts as he is picked up by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford while Ford was signing bobblehead dolls in his likeness at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 12, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds up a replica Grey Cup as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs with fans as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Ford showed up at Sunday's Canadian Football League playoff game, despite a request by the league's commissioner that he stay away.
Canadian recording artist Drake, left, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laugh at a news conference announcing that Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star game, in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford displays a milk moustache as he takes part in voting with city council members in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches from the sidelines near the Argos bench during a CFL football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders in Calgary on Saturday, August 18, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for photographs inside a giant shark mouth while attending the grand opening of the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. After two years of construction, delays and (Canadian) $130 million in costs, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened to the public Wednesday.
City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for a photo opportunity with other dignitaries in a shark's jaws at the opening of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, October 16, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is hoisted into the air by his Don Bosco Eagles team after winning the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday Nov. 15, 2012. A civil trial hearing in which the mayor is accused of libel against a restaurant owner went on without him.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (center) smiles as he officially opens the refurbished Sunnydale rink with Toronto Maple Leafs' coach Ron Wilson (right) and other dignitaries who were on hand as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs who practiced on the outdoor rink in Toronto on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford grabs the Grey Cup by the handles during a parade celebrating the Toronto Argonauts victory in the Grey Cup final in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 .
Rob Ford Meets Butter Rob Ford
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/31/rob-ford-butter-sculpture-ex-cne_n_1846616.html" target="_hplink">Toronto Mayor Rob Ford comes face to face with a butter sculpture of himself at the Canadian National Exhibition</a>.
Butter Rob Ford
As part of an exhibition at the CNE, Toronto-based artist Olenka Kleban has made a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/24/butter-rob-ford-sculpture_n_1828527.html" target="_hplink">butter sculpture of Toronto's mayor</a>.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hoists the Grey Cup on stage with Toronto Argonauts players while celebrating the team's Grey Cup victory in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Nov.27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stands at the door to his office as he waits for an elevator in Toronto on Thursday November 14, 2013.
Mayor Rob Ford speaks at city council in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.
Nov. 13 2013. Toronto mayor Rob Ford during the afternoon session as councillors continued to debate a motion asking mayor Rob Ford to apologize to Torontonians for misleading therm about his use of crack cocaine.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team during the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.
In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds a bobblehead doll depicting him at Toronto City Hall. An electoral map of the 2010 mayoral election shows that Ford's voter base resides mainly in a more conservative constituency than the downtown electorate.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and city councillor Michelle Berardinetti (right) smile on stage during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford jumps on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acts on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media outside office in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, after the release of a video. A new video surfaced showing Ford in a rage, using threatening words including "kill" and "murder."
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford emerges from his office holding slices of a birthday cake to offer to members of the media at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday May 28, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall in Toronto amid allegations of crack cocaine use on Friday May 17, 2013, in Toronto. Published reports say a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford called the allegations ridiculous.
Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford watches players from Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, warm up before they compete against the Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 Those whose antics threaten to besmirch the party name normally don't get a second chance with Canada's federal Conservatives. Not so, it would seem, for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford carries the Pan American games flag in Omnilife Stadium during the closing ceremonies of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. Toronto will host the games in 2015.
Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford reacts after Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, lost 28-14 to Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to a staff member at city hall in Toronto on Wednesday November 6, 2013.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses reporters at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford briefly takes the stage to greet the crowd as part of the New Years Eve celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Monday, December 31, 2012.