Arrests made in $15M gold heist in Canada

By AFP   April 18, 2024 | 08:49 pm PT
Arrests made in $15M gold heist in Canada
A still image of Canada’s largest-ever gold heist extracted from a security camera footage as provided by Canada's Peel Regional Police.
The theft of thousands of gold bars valued at Can$20 million (US$15 million) from a Canadian airport facility last year was an inside job, authorities said Wednesday, announcing six arrests and three more warrants issued.

The shipment of 6,600 gold bars from a refinery in Switzerland, along with Can$2.5 million in foreign bank notes, was stolen from a Toronto airport cargo facility on April 17, 2023.

Officials have called it the largest gold heist in Canadian history, and very little of the gold has been recovered so far.

Peel Regional Police chief Nishan Duraiappah, speaking to reporters in Brampton in front of the truck used in the crime, called the theft an inside job that was "carefully planned by a well-organized group of criminals."

The accused include two Air Canada airline employees and a jewelry store owner, as well as the getaway driver who was arrested during a routine traffic stop in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

All are from the Toronto region, and range in age from 25 to 54.

The getaway driver has been also indicted in the United States for possession of 65 illegal firearms believed to have been destined for Canada, said an official with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The three warrants are for suspects still at large.

Authorities described how the gold weighing 400 kilograms and other valuables were offloaded from a plane and then securely stored in the cargo holding facility.

A man driving a truck arrived at the loading dock two and a half hours later with a fraudulent air waybill to claim it. The document used to track international shipments had been printed at the Air Canada cargo facility.

One of the suspects who works for Air Canada gave investigators a tour of the cargo facility before they identified him as a potential culprit. He resigned from his post last year.

Police said they seized Can$430,000 believed to be profits from the sale of the gold, and six crudely made gold bracelets worth an estimated Can$89,000. They are still searching for the rest of the gold.

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