Boy, 14, subject of Amber Alert found after being abducted as ‘retribution’ for unpaid drug debt

A 14-year-old North York boy who was the subject of a late-night Amber Alert has been found, after he was abducted as “retribution” for his stepbrother’s $4-million unpaid drug debt, police say.

Police say he was found safe Thursday night and was taken for a medical check. A press conference with more details is expected for Friday morning at Toronto Police headquarters.

The Star is no longer naming the boy to protect his privacy as he has been found safe.

The boy, a grade nine student at Newtonbrook Secondary School, was last seen a short distance from his home near Jane Street and Driftwood Avenue at about 8:25 a.m. Wednesday.

Police were notified he was missing hours later, and an Amber Alert was issued around midnight.

Police allege the boy’s stepbrother owes a large debt in relation to a multi-kilo cocaine ring and has since fled the GTA.

They said the missing boy has no connection to the criminal lifestyle.

“As a result, we are alleging that two to three males forced (the boy) into a dark coloured Jeep Wrangler,” Steve Watts of the Toronto Police’s organized crime enforcement unit told reporters Thursday evening.

A “burned out vehicle matching the description of the Jeep Wrangler has been located in the Caledon area,” Watts said. Police believe this is the same vehicle used in the abduction.

The alleged drug deal was in the summer of 2019 and it was “in the area of a hundred kilos.”

There was an initial police response around 8:30 a.m. when an “unknown trouble” call came in that was investigated by 31 Division. The boy’s parents called police around 5:30 p.m.

Investigators have not yet said if any arrests were made in the case.

Four staff members at a North York high school were put on “home assignment” after the boy’s parents weren’t notified for at least nine hours after he failed to show up at school.

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed an automatic call to notify the boy’s parents that he had not shown up for school was sent at 6:09 p.m. Wednesday.

Board policy requires classroom teachers to report attendance promptly each period, Bird said. At Newtonbrook, this information is relaid to parents in attendance calls are sent twice daily, once around 11 a.m. and again around 6 p.m.

“We’ve now confirmed that attendance information was not entered by the 11 a.m. cut-off, and, as a result, this information was shifted to the second call,” he said.

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“We’re looking to confirm the details right now, but what is clear is that the attendance information was not entered as it should have been.”

Several police officers could be seen outside the boy’s house early Thursday morning and were canvassing the neighbourhood, including on horseback.

In 2017, at least 90 people were arrested for their alleged connection to a drug trafficking gang called the Driftwood Crips, known to frequent the Jane and Driftwood area.

Arrests led to the seizure of 193 fentanyl patches, with a street value of $38,000, and 194 fentanyl pills, valued at about $15,000. Almost 500 charges were laid including drug trafficking, sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, and firearm offences.

With files from Star staff

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