An apartment complex linked to the Rob Ford crack scandal was part of a sweeping police raid across the Greater Toronto area early Thursday morning, but police aren't saying if the now-infamous cellphone video of the Toronto mayor smoking crack cocaine is in their possession.
The building, located at 320 Dixon Rd. in the Etobicoke neighborhood, is believed to be the location where the video is being stashed, according to the Toronto Sun. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star reported that the nearby home of 19-year-old Muhammad Khattak -- one of the men allegedly pictured with Ford in the crack video -- was also raided. According to the Star, police took a male suspect into custody but wouldn't confirm if it was Khattak.
Later on Thursday, Toronto police tweeted the details of a press conference on the raids, saying that 39 warrants were executed, with raids targeting guns and drugs. The raids were part of a yearlong sting operation called “Project Traveller,” which police hope will curb the flow of guns into the area. Police said they made 43 arrests and seized 40 firearms along with drugs and cash.
According to Canadian media accounts, reporters asked about the operation’s connection to the video, but Police Chief Bill Blair declined to discuss the subject or say whether police obtained the crack video. According to Toronto CityNews, Blair added that he may be able to disclose tomorrow whether police seized cellphones and other digital devices, but he couldn't discuss what was on them.
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Chief Blair has emphasized that all the evidence associated to Project Traveller will most appropriately be disclosed in court ^mg
â€” Toronto Police(@TorontoPolice) June 13, 2013
At City Hall on Thursday, Mayor Ford told reporters that he didn't know about the raids beforehand because “the cable was out last night.”
The 44-year-old mayor has been embroiled in scandal since May 16, when Gawker first reported about a piece of cellphone video that allegedly shows Ford smoking crack cocaine.
In mid-May, Gawker’s John Cook launched “Crackstarter,” a crowd-funding campaign seeking $200,000 to purchase the video and post it online. The campaign gained widespread attention, as well as its share of praise and criticism. Crackstarter reached its goal, but Cook admitted that Gawker’s editors lost contact with the video’s owners. On May 27, Cook posted that the site had no contact with the people in possession of the video for at least a week.
On March 28, 21-year-old Anthony Smith, who allegedly shot the 90-second video, was shot and killed outside of a Toronto nightclub. Khattak was shot in the arm but survived.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the date of Anthony Smith’s death. It was not May 28 but March 28, before the video surfaced.