Crank, Crystal, Ice; label it how you like. Methamphetamine discovered in the 19th century is a quandary for any policing community where it becomes readily available. It was used prolifically during World War II to keep troops on both sides awake; a more augmented version being given to Kamikaze pilots before suicide missions. In the 50’s and 60’s it was attainable on prescription as a slimming aid and anti-depressant. The 70’s saw administrations around the world prohibit the drug; a business opportunity Californian Outlaw Biker gangs deemed too good to pass up. Now, most Meth comes from illegal local sources.
In 2010 I was approached by a Hamilton Police Officer who told me he was aware of other law enforcement personnel from Hamilton both using and trafficking steroids. I asked if he had apprised senior management and he told me it was only rumor from one of his sources, and he “didn’t want to get involved.”
I acquired my own source that was familiar with all parties and he confirmed Hamilton Police Officers were not only using, but trafficking steroids. The primary civilian suspect was a professional bodybuilder called Reiner Ruska. He owned a couple of ‘Herc’s Nutrional’ stores in and around the Hamilton region. Some of the same officers were also ‘protecting’ Ruska, providing intelligence and warnings if police investigations were getting to close to his acts of criminality.
I began an investigation which would take me on my days off into Niagara to surveil Ruska’s home address. I would watch him drive $300,000 sports cars registered to a shell company out of Toronto. His passengers would sometimes be serving Hamilton Police officers.
Hamilton Police Officers would also attend his home, but so would numerous other people. His life style was not indicative of a personal trainer with two small nutritional supplement stores, and this should have been apparent to anyone, never mind seasoned law enforcement personnel.
During the course of the investigation I received further information a Toronto Police officer who was also buying and selling steroids through Ruska was a member of Toronto Police Service’s Tactical Unit. The assertion was that he was actually stealing separate parts of guns from work, re-assembling them together off-site and selling them to “gang bangers” in the Jane/ Finch corridor of Toronto for $5,000.
I was cognizant if he worked Tactical, then he would have some access to firearms parts, and unfettered access to spare ammunition. Background revealed he actually worked in the Training Unit, which would make him in all probability an armorer, meaning he could write off parts at will. For me this fact alone gave credence to the intelligence received.
Over a 4 month period I had put together a partial intelligence report but my hand was now forced. I could continue to investigate officers involved in wrongdoing, but in all good conscious if anybody was hurt because of an illegally obtained firearm that would now be on me.
I submitted the intelligence report but went directly to the Intel office with the illegal firearms trafficking information. I told a bemused Detective the story and he scribbled the name down and said he’d immediately pass it on to the Toronto Police Intelligence Unit. The following week I called through to the Training Unit to see if this officer was still there to be told he had been ‘moved’ from the unit to an ‘administration post’.
On April 14th, 2011 Project Newton was executed involving Hamilton Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service and the OPP. 21 were arrested and charged including Cst. Andrew Pauls, one of Hamilton’s own constables. At the time of his arrest he was suspended from duty for stealing Percocet from the evidence locker at Central Station. He would subsequently resign and it would seem his charges disappeared into the abyss, at least I can find no media record of a trial.
Police would seize over 26 kg’s of methamphetamine, along with other narcotics including cocaine, marijuana and MDMA for a total street value of $4,000,000. An undercover officer was also utilized buying drugs directly off Ruska, who would also unwittingly assist in the downfall of Cst. Pauls as Pauls was tasked by Ruska to use police computers to run the undercover officers vehicle.
Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire would comment in a press release, “The Hamilton Police Service remains committed to the eradication of drugs, guns and gang activity and the relentless pursuit of offenders as we work to keep our citizens safe.”
I could find no mention of the numerous Hamilton Police Officers who I knew were being subjected to internal interviews suspected of both using and trafficking drugs as he made his remarks. Those in specialized units such as tactical or traffic would be reassigned to patrol without excuse. Weeks passed and it became clear to me this would become another Hamilton cover-up.
Approximately four weeks later I was approached by an officer at the station. He bluntly asked me if I was the officer who gave them all up and I confirmed I was. He went on to admit using and trafficking steroids, but professed he’d “only done it a couple of times” as if trying to justify himself to me.
I enquired how he found out it was me that submitted the report to be told someone in intelligence told him, but would not identify who. I probed what was happening into the investigation against officers to be told they were all given “written warnings”.
Several days passed and a second officer approached with the same line of questioning. Then a third and a fourth. Two would admit their wrongdoing and ask for advice, one would completely deny the same, and adamantly deny he had even met Ruska. This was one of the officers I’d watched the year prior, sat in the passenger seat of Ruska’s sports car at his home in Grimsby. He now holds a very ‘public’ position with Hamilton Police Service.
Sometime after I found myself in the same checkout line at the grocery store as a Halton Detective I knew from the Ontario Police College. He was Scottish and had transferred over to Canada at exactly the same time I did.
Knowing I was working for Hamilton Police ‘Derek’ without solicitation started to tell me about how “dirty” Hamilton cops were. He then went on to tell me the story of Project Newton, his involvement as a Sergeant on the drugs squad and the scores of officer throughout the Golden Horseshoe who were involved in the use and sale of steroids from Niagara Regional Police through to Durham Police Service.
I quizzed further, revealing my engagement from the start and how I was only aware of the involvement of Hamilton Officers. He keenly reaffirmed, it was officers from almost every municipality even Halton, and including the O.P.P. Some would buy from Ruska for their own personal use; others would buy and traffic to third parties, mostly other officers.
One thing that had always perplexed me, other than the obvious lack of confidentiality Derek and my own intelligence office displayed, was who was importing the steroids for Ruska. My source had told me it was a police officer who was still importing even after the take down, but nothing further.
In August 2012 Cst. Geoff Purdie of Niagara Regional Police was returning from the US as he did every other weekend. Purdie would cross, go to his US postal address and pick up parcels containing anabolic steroids and other drugs and bring them back across the border. Once at the Canadian Border Service Agency checkpoint he would show his police credentials and be waved through.
Unfortunately, on this occasion Purdie was detained leaving the US by Homeland Security, where he was subsequently arrested and found in possession of over $500,000 of narcotics. There’s no proof Purdie was using steroids but the story of this officer turned ‘international drug trafficker’ drew the ire of the Fort Erie community in which he worked and numerous residents came forward with tales aggressive and often violent behavior by Purdie and his colleagues. These complaints had been reported and ignored by NRPS; one member of the public felt so aggrieved he even tried to lay an information for assault and was refused by the Crown.
Purdie would plead guilty and take a plea deal which would see him only serving one year US Federal prison time before being deported back to Canada.
Playing devil’s advocate I can sympathize with Senior Management Teams who have issues with officers using steroids. It is difficult to detect and even more problematic to evidence. However, I am willing to stake what little reputation I have left making this assumption; there is a correlation between the rising numbers of law enforcement steroid abuser and the ascending episodes of unwarranted police violence. Indeed, in the Cst. Forcillo, TPS manslaughter case, the media all but came out and said Forcillo was a steroid abuser, skating the issue just enough to avoid litigation.
The scores of constables throughout the Golden Horseshoe involved in Project Newton whose purchase and sale of steroids contributed to Ruska’s criminal drug empire, unwittingly supporting him in diversifying to Meth sales would all receive ‘written warnings’ as dispensation for their wrongdoing.
Senior Management Teams from multiple services would conspire to hide their criminality. It becomes clearer each day it’s more comfortable to sweep these issues under the carpet rather than deal with them head on and strut a level of transparency and accountability that could somewhat restore eroded public trust.
The officer I asserted was offering Police Firearms to gang members would disappear from the ‘Sunshine List’ the year I made allegations, returning back on it and back to the training unit the following year. He’s now a Toronto Police Detective and who earned over $140,000 in 2015. Who knows, conceivably the next shooting he attends may be from a handgun he sold.
“Being honest might not get you a lot of friends, but it always gets you the right ones.” – John Lennon