Credits: VERONICA HENRI/QMI AGENCY
Officers said concerns about being monitored by criminals have led to their use of unmarked police vehicles or the changing of routes when they conduct investigations at some housing complexes in the notorious Jane St. and Finch Ave. W. area.
Police claim the spies - or lookouts - live in a high-rise apartment building in the area. There, the lookouts have an unobstructed view of the Jane-Finch intersection, and can report the movement of police vehicles.
Officers said the women are allegedly paid to watch for police vehicles and contact the drug lords by walkie-talkie or BlackBerry Messenger when a cruiser is nearby.
"By the time we turn the corner to go north on Jane from Finch, the drug dealers know we're coming," one officer said. "These people sit there all day long and watch for our vehicles."
Police said by the time they arrive at their destination, the dealers have scattered.
"It is a pretty ingenious system," the officer said. "Even their kids are trained to look for our cars."
Toronto Police Supt. David McLeod, who is in charge of the area, said criminals have been trying to listen to police calls for years.
"This is an ongoing issue for us," McLeod said. "They also use texting, BBMs as well two-way radio."
He said charges cannot be laid because the suspects have not broken any laws.
"We know that they are out there and we take precautions," McLeod said. "We are aware that there are people out there looking at what we do."
The ring members came to light after detectives intercepted their radio chatter on police scanners.
Officers said the suspects refer to Toronto police as "Five-O," as in Hawaii Five O; the police TV series, and "Six Up," as in the number of bullets in a gun.
Most of the lookouts are single moms who have children who play outside their apartment in view of the intersection, police said.