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Craig Ruthowsky, Hamilton cop, arrested during Project Pharaoh gang raids

A Hamilton police officer has been arrested after a series of gang raids across the GTHA.

17-year Hamilton police veteran suspended with pay since June 2012

A Hamilton police officer has been arrested as part of a series of gang raids across the GTHA and is facing a number of charges related to participating in a criminal organization.

Toronto Police executed 50 search warrants on Thursday across the Golden Horseshoe for Project Pharaoh.

The Hamilton police officer was arrested Thursday morning at a Hamilton home, police said. 

Craig Ruthowsky, 41, faces the following charges:

  • Breach of trust.
  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable (traffic cocaine).
  • Participate in activities of a criminal organization.
  • Commission of an indictable offence for a criminal organization.

He is being held in custody pending a bail hearing.

"We are alleging he was part of a criminal organization, participated in it," said Toronto Police Inspector Bryan Bott at a Friday press conference. Police didn't elaborate on what Ruthowsky is alleged to have done, other than say the charges speak for themselves.

Suspended with pay

In September last year, Toronto Police began looking into a Toronto-based gang called the Monstarz,  based out of the Rexdale area. At some point, gang members travelled to Hamilton and met with some people from an unnamed Hamilton gang. That is when the investigation first encountered Ruthowsky, said Bott. It's not clear from police comments whether the allegations against Ruthowsky involve activities in connection with the Monstarz gang or the Hamilton gang.

The officer, a 17-year veteran of the police force, has been suspended with pay since June 2012 because of unrelated charges laid under the Ontario Police Act.

"Since that time, (the officer) has had no contact with public as a police officer," Hamilton police's Supt. Dan Kinsella said during the press conference. 

Bott said the investigation against Ruthowsky meant the Hamilton Police Service was excluded from the project and took no part in the raids that occurred in the city. 

"We didn't involve Hamilton in a lot of our efforts because of that," he said during the press conference. 

Bott said it is always disappointing for police when one of their own is involved in an investigation.

Bott said the most difficult part of the case was "the aspect of the police officer and trying to continue our investigation without compromising it."

According to the Hamilton Spectator, the original and unrelated police act allegations against Ruthowsky involve leaking confidential information to an informant.

He had a bail hearing in Toronto court Friday and will reappear Monday at 10 a.m.. also in a Toronto court.

Ruthowsky has decided to retain his own counsel, the Hamilton Police Association said.

"I'm shocked to learn of the arrest," said Clint Twolan, president of the HPA. Twolan added the association does not "condone or support the type of behaviours that they (the charges) allude to."

Hamilton homes raided

Thursday's raid was part of a year and a half investigation into the Monstarz, a Toronto-based criminal organization.

Thirty-two people were arrested across the GTA and in Hamilton, as 50 search warrants were executed simultaneously at about 5 a.m.

Police seized, in total, 33 kilograms of cocaine, $196,000 Canadian and $18,000 American in cash and 14 firearms.  The total street value of the drugs seized is about $3.8 million.

The investigation has led to 45 people currently facing 379 charges before the courts.

Several Hamilton homes, ranging in size and location, were raided in Project Pharaoh. 

The investigations into the Monstarz began in September 2014, with preparation for the arrests starting three weeks ago, police said.

Investigations began after 44 reported incidents of violence, including robberies, shootings and homicides, in the northwest Toronto where the Monstarz were based, police say.

Police described one incident in May 2011 of a gang feud involving the Monstarz that led to bullets striking Etobicoke General Hospital, forcing a lockdown.

The incident started in an apartment complex, where a gunman opened fire near playing children, striking two men and a woman.  

One of the struck men was driven to the Etobicoke hospital by a friend.  After that friend had dropped the wounded man off and exited the hospital, a gunman began shooting at the friend in the parking lot.  The friend was hit, but stray bullets shattered hospital windows.

"It was through sheer luck that no innocent victim was either wounded or killed," said Toronto Chief of Police Jim Ramer.

The incident was reported and investigated, but no charged were laid due to lack of evidence and witness participation, police said. 

However, incidents like these led to police knowing of at least 30 people affiliated with the Monstarz before the case even began.

After a over a year and a half of preparation, police believe Project Pharaoh and yesterday's arrests have put a "serious dent" into the criminal organization.

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