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Police announce nine suspects in $24M gold and cash heist at Toronto Pearson

April 17, 2024  By Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

A traveller makes their way through Pearson International Airport in Toronto Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Police say they’ve made arrests in a daring theft of nearly $24 million in gold and cash from Toronto’s Pearson airport last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Two men who worked for Air Canada and an alleged firearms trafficker are among nine people charged in a heist of nearly $24 million in gold and cash from Toronto’s Pearson airport a year ago, police said Wednesday, offering new details of what happened in the “sensational” case.

Peel Regional Police said their joint investigation – dubbed Project 24K – with the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau has resulted in a combined 19 criminal charges against the suspects, including multiple counts of theft over $5,000.

Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said 6,600 gold bars weighing over 400 kilograms were stolen from Pearson International Airport on April 17, 2023, and had a value of over $20 million. It is the largest gold theft in Canadian history, he said.

“This story is a sensational one, and one which probably, we jokingly say belongs in a Netflix series,” he said.


Det. Sgt. Mike Mavity, the case manager for Project 24K, said the stolen gold and foreign currency were ordered from a refinery in Zurich, Switzerland, and were transported in the hull of an Air Canada flight to Toronto.

The flight arrived at 3:56 p.m. on April 17, 2023 and the gold and currency were offloaded and brought to an Air Canada cargo facility at the airport.

A suspect then arrived at the cargo facility driving a five tonne truck and presented a fraudulent airway bill to warehouse employees who loaded the shipment onto his truck, Mavity said

“It’s an actual, legitimate airway bill for seafood. It’s just a duplicate. So that actual seafood was picked up the day before, and they printed it off within Air Canada Cargo (facility),” he said.

An Air Canada employee, a 54-year-old man from Brampton, Ont., is among those charged, police said.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for a 31-year-old-man from Brampton who police say was a manager at Air Canada at the time of the theft. Police said he led “a tour” of the cargo facility for police after the theft, and resigned from Air Canada last summer.

“They needed people inside Air Canada to facilitate this theft,” Mavity said.

A lawsuit filed against Air Canada by American security company Brink’s has alleged that a thief presented a forged document to collect about $23.8 million in goods from a holding facility at Pearson airport.

Brink’s statement of claim alleged that Air Canada staff handed over 400 kilograms of gold, worth more than $20 million, plus nearly US$2 million in cash to the thief.

Air Canada has denied any improper conduct or responsibility for the theft in its statement of defence and rejected all allegations in the Brink’s lawsuit.

Peel police said Wednesday that investigators have seized one kilogram of gold believed to be from the theft, worth about $89,000, as well as smelting equipment and approximately $434,000 in currency.

They said their investigation also interrupted an attempt to import firearms to Canada from the United States, as the suspect who drove the truck with stolen gold from the airport was later arrested with firearms in Pennsylvania.

Mavity said that suspect was stopped by Pennsylvania State Police near Chambersburg, Pa., in September of last year.

“After a brief foot chase, he was detained and troopers located 65 illegal firearms within the vehicle,” he said.

“We are alleging that some individuals who participated in the gold theft are also involved in aspects of this firearms trafficking.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2023


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