The tools of a dangerous and violent trade were on display at police headquarters as investigators showed the media the guns and drugs seized during Project Pharaoh.
The investigation, which began in September 2014, targeted the Monstarz street gang that operated mainly in northwest Toronto.
Fifty search warrants were executed on June 4 and 93 overall since the investigation started.
A total of 45 people, including two young offenders, face a total of 379 charges emanating from the operation in which drugs with a street value of $3.8 million, 14 firearms, about $196,000 and $1,800 (U.S.) and 15 vehicles were seized.
At a news conference on June 5 where the illicit drugs and money were displayed, Acting Chief Jim Ramer said the gang members posed a direct threat to community safety.
He said they were involved in 44 reported incidents of violence in and around the Rexdale area since May 2011, including robberies, shootings and homicides with direct links to possession and trafficking of illicit drugs.
Ramer pointed to two incidents that occurred on May 30, 2014 in which he alleged gang members were involved in.
During the early evening, a gunman opened fire in an apartment complex on Mt. Olive Dr., wounding three people. After taking one of the victims to Etobicoke General Hospital, a friend of the victim was struck by a bullet in the parking lot on his way out of the hospital.
Patients and hospital staff were sent scurrying for cover and windows in the hospital emergency department were shattered by bullets.
“It was through sheer luck that nobody was wounded or killed,” Ramer said. “Fearing that other victims may have been followed to hospitals, the emergency departments of Sunnybrook and Etobicoke General were placed in lockdown for several hours.”
Ramer is confident that the gang has been dismantled as a result of the exhaustive investigation.
“Several of those arrested include gang leaders with a lengthy criminal history,” he said. “Project Pharaoh stands as another example of what can be achieved when police services work collaboratively with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of our respective communities.”
Inspector Bryan Bott, of the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force, said the gang is allegedly involved in at least eight homicides. They include the death of 22-year-old Travis Tash, who died of a gunshot wound last September on Upper Canada Dr., and the November 2013 murder of Neeko Mitchell, who was fatally gunned down outside the North Kipling Community Centre.
“This street gang has been on the Toronto Police radar for some time,” he said.
The ages of those charged range from 16 to 41.
A Hamilton police officer was among 32 people arrested in a joint police operation in southern Ontario the early morning hours of June 4.
Constable Craig Ruthowsky, 41, who has been on paid leave since 2012, faces five charges including breach of trust, participation in a criminal organization and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.