project econoline

Drug busts seize insane stash large enough to kill huge fraction of Toronto

A major series of coordinated drug busts have netted a massive cache of weapons and drugs today, and the sheer volume of substances seized could have done some real damage if it made it out onto the streets of the Greater Toronto Area.

The Durham Regional Police Service's Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) concluded their five-month investigation, dubbed Project ECONOLINE, with a bang.

The DEU, with the assistance of the Gun and Gang Enforcement Unit, Tactical Support Unit and the East Division Community Response team, executed 28 search warrants across the GTA, arresting 44 and laying 295 charges.

Perhaps the most troubling find in the busts was 5.8 kilograms of fentanyl, the powerful opioid drug with a potency up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Its strength-to-cost ratio has made it a popular adulterant in street drugs, and it really doesn't take much of the drug to send users spinning into overdose.

Such a vast volume of fentanyl is especially concerning with rising overdose numbers in the region, especially in Toronto, where Paramedics Services attended 562 non-fatal and 26 fatal calls for suspected opioid overdoses in July alone.

The Toronto Overdose Information System states that "the number of non-fatal calls continues the increase seen since May 2021 and is the highest on record since we started monitoring these data."

"The number of fatal calls also continues the series of high monthly fatal calls since the declaration of the COVID-19 emergency. The average monthly number of fatal calls attended by Paramedics Services up to March 2020 was 13. In comparison, after March 2020, this had increased to an average of 26."

Let's do a quick bit of math just to break down how serious this bust was.

The lethal dose of fentanyl has been reported to be as low as two milligrams. There are 1,000 milligrams in a kilogram, and almost six kilograms of the drug were seized in Project ECONOLINE. That's theoretically enough to kill 290,000 people, or a tenth of Toronto’s 2.93 million residents.

If that wasn't enough, a total of 4.2 kilograms of cocaine, 205 grams of methamphetamine, 3,000 oxycodone pills, and an unknown quantity of hydromorphone, GHB and MDMA were also seized, which would undoubtedly add to this hypothetical body count.

Project ECONOLINE also took eight handguns off the street along with over $300,000 in cash.

On top of the hard drugs and guns, 30 kilograms of illicit cannabis was seized, but really, who cares about that in the grand scheme of things. The total value of the bust was a whopping $2.5 million.

Despite the danger and quantity of the drugs seized, this bust will barely register in the annals of Canadian trafficking lore and pales in comparison to the 70 kilograms and almost 124,000 pills of fentanyl captured in a record-breaking 2020 bust.

A previous version of this article errantly stated that the amount of fentanyl seized through Project ECONOLINE was theoretically enough to kill 2.9 million people. This error has been corrected. 

Lead photo by

Durham Regional Police

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