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11 ARE CHARGED IN THEFT OF TRACTOR-TRAILERS

A retired police officer was among 11 persons charged in connection with a stolen tractor-trailer ring, Ontario Provincial Police announced Monday.

Approximately $7 million worth of tractor-trailers and their contents were stolen, police said.

The arrests culminated a 10-month police investigation known as Project Overdue, which began with information about the thefts of tractor trailers loaded with all types of merchandise. The contents were sold or offered for sale to the insurance companies, with the tractors dismantled for parts and sold or shipped to the United States and Colombia, police said.

Seventy-four charges were lodged against the 11.

Arrested on charges including possession of stolen property, conspiracy to possess property obtained by crime and conspiracy to launder proceeds of crime, were:

Marshall Thur, 52, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer; John Kucan Sr., 65, of Niagara-on-the-Lake; Harvey Hugh Gatfield, 46, of St. Catharines; James Hernder, 36, of Niagara-on-the-Lake; Leonard Lalonde, 30, of Dunnville; Susan Gatfield, 34, of St. Catharines and Donna Smith, 37, of Dunnville.

Arrested on related charges were: Anthony Kucan, 63, of Niagara-on-the-Lake; Michael Kucan Jr., 61, of Niagara-on-the-Lake; Archie Ghiendoni, 64, of Thorold and David Kucan, 35, of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Search warrants were executed Sunday at 11 locations, with approximately 75 OPP officers and 50 Niagara Regional Police officers seizing tractor trailers, their contents and truck parts.

The investigation was handled by the OPP's Criminal Investigation Bureau -- Major Cases Section, with help from Niagara Regional Police, the FBI and U.S. Customs.

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