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May 22, 2024
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$15 million gold heist was an inside job, suspects linked to cross-border arms trafficking – Police

(Kitco News) – One year to the day after one of the largest gold heists in history, Canadian police announced the arrests of five Canadians and one American, with three others still at large.

On April 17, 2023, a shipping container with 6,600 gold bars weighing about 880 pounds was stolen from the Air Canada cargo facility at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada soon after it arrived on a flight from Zurich, Switzerland. 

At the time, the gold was valued at $15 million, or $20 million Canadian, but with gold up nearly 19% since the robbery, the shipment would be valued at close to $19 million at today’s prices. The thieves also made off with foreign currency worth $1.8 million.

“This was the largest gold heist in Canadian history,” said Nick Milinovich, the deputy chief of Peel Regional Police, at a news conference on Wednesday. “Reportedly, it’s the sixth largest in world crime history.”

National and international law enforcement agencies spent many months investigating the theft, which ultimately led them to discover it was an inside job involving two Air Canada employees, one of whom even led police on a tour of the cargo facility before investigators discovered his involvement. A Toronto jewelry store owner was also among those arrested.

The massive law enforcement operation was called ‘24 karat’ and necessitated investigating 225 businesses and residences in the Toronto area for video footage, along with police interviews of 50 individuals.

It also involved the Philadelphia Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as investigators eventually uncovered links to a firearms trafficking operation. One person in the United States was arrested with 65 illegal firearms.

“We believe that [the thieves] melted down the gold and then the profits they got from the gold, they used to help finance the firearms,” Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity told reporters. Investigators also found smelting equipment.

To date, only $65,000 worth of the stolen bullion has been recovered, in the form of crudely fashioned jewelry, as well as $312,000 in Canadian currency.

“This story is a sensational one, and one which we jokingly say belongs in a Netflix series or something greater than that,” said Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah, who added that the investigation is ongoing.

Air Canada told Reuters that it had suspended one of the employees who was charged, while the second had left the airline before police brought charges.

Police said the five Canadian suspects were released on bail after being arrested and charged, while the individual arrested in the United States on firearms charges remains in custody. Warrants have been issued for three other suspects in Canada.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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