Arrests made in the largest gold heist in Canada history

Canada police have made arrests and issued warrants for nine people in the largest gold theft in Canadian history.

More than 6,500 gold bars, weighing roughly 400kg (881lb), were stolen from a cargo facility at Toronto Pearson Airport, in April 2023, along with millions in cash.

The stolen gold was valued at C$20 million.

Police said the “Netflix-series”-style heist was executed by a “well-organised group of criminals”.

The investigation is ongoing.

The announcement Wednesday by the Canadian Peel Regional Police and the US Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau came exactly one year after the massive gold heist, reportedly the sixth largest in the world.

The year-long investigation by US and Canada law enforcement, largely secret until Wednesday, was code-named Project 24K. It included dozens of search warrants and interviews.

So far, police have recovered C$90,000 worth of “pure gold” fashioned into six “crudely made” bracelets. They also seized smelting pots, casts and moulds, as well as C$430,000 in cash that police say is part of the ”profits the suspect made when they sold the gold”.

Peel Regional Police Six gold bracelets police say the suspects made using the stolen goldPeel Regional Police
Six gold bracelets police say the suspects made using the stolen gold
Peel Regional Police Cash recovered by police they say comes from the sale of the stolen goldPeel Regional Police
Cash recovered by police they say comes from the sale of the stolen gold

On Wednesday, police also emphasized they found 65 guns after arresting one of the suspects.

In September, Pennsylvania police arrested an Ontario man illegally in the US, and he was identified as the driver in the heist, police said.

Police stopped him in Philadelphia for a traffic violation and discovered firearms in his car. He is still in custody in the US. Five other suspects, two of whom were employees of the airline carrying the goods, were arrested and released pending a court appearance; three arrest warrants have been issued for others in Canada.

“One of those firearms had an obliterated serial number, 11 of them were stolen, and two of them were converted into fully automatic machine guns,” Eric Degree, a special agent of the ATF in Philadelphia, said.

According to police, those guns were “intended for import into Canada”. “This isn’t just about a gold heist, this is about how gold becomes guns,” said Nando Iannicca, chair of the Peel Police Services Board.

Police said the guns seized in the US were a “dotted line” to people’s wellbeing in Canada.

Peel Regional Police Guns retrieved by the police connected to the gold heistPeel Regional Police
Police say the 65 guns they retrieved in the US were headed to Canada

The 17 April 2023 heist occurred inside a cargo holding facility, after it arrived on an Air Canada flight from Zurich, Switzerland. Police allege that an unidentified person was able to access the goods by showing a fake airway bill – a document that accompanies shipped items.

A five-tonne truck was then used to steal the goods, police said.

Months after the theft, Brink’s International, a US-based security company due to coordinate the shipment of the goods, sued Air Canada.

Brink’s alleged that the airline had been “reckless” and had failed to prevent the theft, making no attempt to verify the identity of the person who “absconded with the cargo”. According to the lawsuit, the goods were stolen 42 minutes after they were unloaded from the plane.

“No security protocols or features were in place to monitor, restrict or otherwise regulate the unidentified individual’s access to the facilities,” Brink’s claimed.

Air Canada has denied “each and every allegation” made by Brink’s, rejecting any accusations of “careless” conduct. The airport has claimed the thieves “accessed the public side of a warehouse that is leased to a third party, outside of our primary security line”.

Brink’s is suing for damages liability, and has asked that the value of the goods stolen be paid back by the airline in full.

The five suspects who were arrested and released are Parmpal Sidhu, 54, Amit Jalota, 40, Ammad Chaudhary, 43, Ali Raza, 37, and Prasath Paramalingam, 35.

Durante King-McClean, 25, is the alleged driver found in Pennsylvania and is in custody in the US on firearms trafficking-related charges.

Canada-wide arrests warrants were issued for Simran Preet Panesar, 31, Archit Grover, 36, and Arsalan Chaudhary, 42, who are still at large.

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