OPP launch Operation Return, 41 arrested in Fort Frances

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Recognizing the serious need for bail reform at both the provincial and national level, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) North West Region Intelligence Unit (NWRIU) launched Operation Return, arresting 41 wanted individuals in Fort Frances this year.

Operation Return ensures the safe apprehension of individuals who are currently wanted and residing in communities across the North West Region. The arrest warrants are related to outstanding charges ranging from violent offences to drug, property, and bail violations, said a press release from the OPP.

Operation Return was launched in January by the North West Region Intelligence Unit launched the regional intelligence initiative.

“Our frontline members, including speciality units, began actively engaging in this operation in late March 2023 in the communities of Greenstone, Marathon, and Fort Frances. Operation Return is continuing in all North West Region communities with a continued focus on public safety,” said acting inspector Michael Kreisz.

63 people have been arrested so far on warrants in three towns: 16 arrests in Greenstone, 6 in Marathon, and 41 in Fort Frances (Rainy River District).

The specifics of each charge are currently before the courts, Kreisz said, adding that he cannot disclose specific details of each charge.

However, Kreisz noted that OPP members carried out Operation Return in the Fort Frances area over the span of three days in the month of May.

Many of the wanted individuals routinely avoid police, he said. “It can be challenging to locate an individual who has an arrest warrant.”

“We have been able to deploy highly trained speciality units, including the North West Region Emergency Response Team and Canine Unit, to locate and safely apprehend these individuals in our communities. Our dedicated front-line members have been fully engaged and supportive of this initiative,” he said.

Frontline members of the OPP have been working diligently to ensure public safety, continually responding to calls for service to ensure investigative excellence, Kreisz said.

Regarding the type of bail reform the OPP hopes to see, Kreisz noted the work of OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

“The OPP’s role is to enforce the law and ensure public safety. Any legislative changes and additional tools or resources that assist police and enhance public safety in the communities we serve are welcomed. OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique continues to put forth efforts in addressing change to Canada’s bail system on behalf of the OPP,” he said.

Detective inspector Noel Berlinquette from Crime Prevention and Investigations said that the primary goal of the initiative is to ensure the security of citizens.

“The primary goal of Operation Return is to ensure the continued safety and security of the citizens, of not only North West Region, but Ontario, and directly correlates with the OPP’s vision of Safe Communities…A Secure Ontario.

Members of the public who have information regarding any type of illegal activity are urged to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122. Should they wish to remain anonymous, they can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).