Two 'violent individuals' arrested in string of Toronto-area carjackings, police say
Police have arrested two suspects in a rash of violent carjackings committed across the Greater Toronto Area over the span of a month.
Police say that they believe the suspects are responsible for a total of 19 carjackings that occurred across Toronto, York Region and Peel Region between March and April of this year.
The authorities say that in many of the incidents the suspects would travel along major highways in search of “high-end SUVs” to target. They would then follow those vehicles to a nearby intersection, or in some cases the victim’s residence.
Once the victims had come to a stop, police allege that the suspects would approach them and demand that they get out of their vehicles, in many cases using physical violence.
“One can only imagine the trauma a victim would go through being subjected to a robbery like this. These are violent, violent individuals and for the most part the victims were minding their own business going about their regular routines and ambushed by these two violent individuals,” Insp. Rich Harris told reporters during a news conference on Tuesday morning. “The lasting effects I can only make a guess. But it does have lasting psychological impacts on the victims.”
Harris said that most of the victims were compliant but were still subjected to “unprovoked physical attacks.” He said that several of the victims did sustain injuries that required treatment, including one individual who ended up being hospitalized.
The suspects, he said, likely intended to sell the vehicles to “illicit businesses across the GTA” or ship them overseas.
However, police were ultimately able to recover 17 of the stolen vehicles following the arrest of the two suspects at a hotel in Mississauga last month.
Harris said that the combined value of the stolen vehicles is pegged at $1 million to $1.5 million.
“The suspects used extreme violence towards the victims while committing these acts with the sole intention of stealing these vehicles for profit,” he said. “This is by no means a concluded investigation, it is still ongoing. I can’t get too deep into it but as it stands we are still looking for some outstanding people.”
Merrick Beddaoui, 22, of Toronto, and Christopher Ugochukwu, 19, of Toronto, were arrested on April 11 and are facing more than 90 combined charges in connection with the carjackings.
Police say that that when the suspects were arrested a large quantity of illegal property was seized, included a loaded Glock handgun that had been modified to make it automatic and two over-capacity magazines.