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63 arrested and counting arrested in ‘Operation Return’

By Adam Riley May 12, 2023 | 7:53 PM

Recognizing the need for bail reform at both the provincial and federal levels the Ontario Provincial Police have launched Operation Return, which focuses on arresting those wanted for violent offences through to drug, property and bail violations.

“It really is paramount to public safety to locate and safely apprehend these individuals and bring them back to the court systems.” says Detective Inspector Noel Berlinquette.

Of the 63 people taken into custody so far, 16 were in the Greenstone area, another 6 were apprehended near Marathon and a majority, 41, were picked up in the Fort Frances and by extension the Rainy River District.

According to Berlinquette, due to the sheer size of the region policed by the OPP, some of those who have been, or will be, arrested may be wanted in one district and picked up in another.

“If someone is wanted and has a warrant out for them they’re not necessarily going to advertise that, they’re not necessarily going to stay in that community.”

Berlinquette adds this project, despite being initialized in January, is still in its beginning stages of the operation, and moving to all detachment areas will be the end goal.

Using a regional intelligence initiative and collaborating with the various teams and units which make up the OPP in the region, police analyze and track down those who they are seeking.

This also includes collaboration with other police services, such as the Thunder Bay Police Service, Treaty Three Police Service, Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, Anishinabek Police Service and many smaller community based police services specific to a First Nation community.

“Really we’re going to be working with them in partnership moving forward. We are right now, but even more specific joint initiatives that are very similar to Operation Return.”

Other jurisdictions outside of Northwestern Ontario or even Ontario itself are also where some of these individuals are being located and transported back in from.

“So crimes committed within our region at whatever location, and then the individual, possibly to evade police, leaves Ontario. These warrants are still on the system and we have essentially tracked them down in other provinces.”

Much of this comes as the Trudeau government looks to strengthen bail reforms, which was hinted at during a funding announcement for Guns and Gangs by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino earlier this week.



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