Major Break in Pearson Gold Heist Case: 9 Arrested, $90K Recovered from $20M Theft

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The truck used in the robbery is seen behind the speakers at Wednesday’s press conference.

The Intricate Web of Crime and Recovery

Canadian Jeweller Magazine Report

Stunning development in what has been described as the largest gold theft in Canadian history, a joint task force of Peel Regional Police and U.S. authorities, known as Project 24K, has successfully apprehended nine individuals linked to the heist at Pearson International Airport. The arrests come exactly one year after the audacious theft of nearly $23 million in gold and cash.

On April of last year, a fraudulent waybill was used to dupe Air Canada staff at a warehouse near Pearson, resulting in the theft of 6,600 gold bars valued at $20 million, alongside $2.5 million CAD in foreign cash. Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity, the major case manager for Project 24K, briefed the media on the details of the theft and subsequent investigation.

The nine arrested include an array of men from across Ontario, notably an Air Canada employee and a Toronto jewellery store owner. Additionally, Canada-wide warrants have been issued for three other men, further deepening the investigation’s reach.

Despite the high-profile arrests, only a fraction of the stolen goods has been recovered. Authorities have secured $430,000 in Canadian currency and six handmade gold bracelets valued at approximately $90,000, believed to be part of the profits from the illicit sale of the stolen gold. Also recovered were two debt lists, which are thought to provide insights into the distribution of the funds and the timeline of the gold’s sale.

The operation also unveiled a concerning link to firearm trafficking. Durante King-Mclean, one of the suspects, was apprehended in Pennsylvania with 65 illegal firearms in September 2023. Allegations suggest that King-Mclean was funded by one of the apprehended individuals to transport these weapons into Canada.

Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah highlighted the cinematic nature of the case, noting its potential fit for a Netflix series. The investigation not only uncovered the gold theft but also thwarted a significant attempt to smuggle firearms into Canada, illustrating a complex web of criminal activities tied to the stolen gold.

Adding to the drama, Brink’s, the firm responsible for transporting the gold from Zurich to Toronto, has initiated legal action against Air Canada. The security company alleges that the airline failed to adequately secure the valuable cargo, a claim that Air Canada has vigorously denied, stating that Brink’s had not insured the shipment.

As this case continues to unfold, the jewellery industry and the public alike remain gripped by the ramifications of this monumental theft, its investigation, and the broader implications for international security and crime prevention.

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