UPDATE: More arrests in Quebec maple syrup heist
WATCH ABOVE: Unraveling the sweetest heist – 16×9 investigates one of the largest thefts in Quebec history.
Police in Quebec have made two more arrests in connection with the $18 million dollar maple syrup heist in Quebec. Police allege the crime took place over the course of a year between 2011 and 2012.
Teriak Caron of Victoriaville and Inuok Caron of Holy Rosary will appear at the Trois- Rivières court house to face charges of theft over $5,000 and possession of stolen syrup with the intent to sell it.
According to police documents, obtained by 16×9, an elaborate team of thieves was assembled to steal 6 million pounds of maple syrup for sale on the black market.
Both men are related to Avik Caron who police say was one of the central players in the theft.
How did $18M worth of maple syrup go missing from a warehouse in Quebec?
What started as a routine inventory check at a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec, in July 2012 unveiled one of the weirdest capers in Quebec history.
In that warehouse was stored the world’s back-up supply of maple syrup: 16,000 barrels of it. To most, it didn’t sound like anything worth stealing or protecting. After all, it’s just a condiment. But what thieves knew was that one barrel of maple syrup is worth 13 times the price of crude oil – and in that warehouse there was $30 million of inventory.
The back-up supply of syrup, otherwise known as the Global Strategic Reserve, was stored in that warehouse in the event of a bad harvest year. It’s owned by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, an organization which, by law, strictly regulates the production and sale of all wholesale maple syrup in Quebec.
When the Federation rented the space in June 2011, it knew there was minimal security at the warehouse. There were no cameras or alarms in place – but, it defends, it couldn’t have imagined someone wanting to steal maple syrup.
But someone did.
And, according to police documents, an elaborate team of thieves was assembled to pull it off. People who had access to the warehouse allegedly joined up with a network of truck drivers, rented warehouses across the province – and made connections with people in the maple syrup industry who knew how to move six million pounds of contraband syrup on the black market. Much of the illegal syrup ended up outside the province, in Ontario, New Brunswick and largely, the U.S. Only a quarter of the syrup was ever recovered.
According to police documents, while the criminal ring was quickly moving the syrup out of the warehouse, they made sure to refill the barrels with water — aware someone might come to check on the inventory at any point.
One of the men who worked for the Federation told police that he noticed water around one of the barrels one day and approached his supervisor. According to allegations contained in court records, his manager offered him a thousand dollars in hush money – and even more to join the cause. By day he would work for the Federation – by night, he says he worked for the criminal organization.
By all accounts the Federation was completely unaware that, for a year, barrels were being stolen from their prized reserve.
But neighbours had their suspicions.
Raymond Pepin found the volume of traffic on the narrow road leading to the warehouse unusually busy. Trucks would drive up and down the access road at all hours; Saturday at midnight, Sunday morning. What’s more, he said, the gate was often left open and the lock was cut.
It would take months to realize the size of the heist – and months more for police to interview more than two hundred witnesses.
In then end, 26 people were arrested. Two people have pleaded guilty; charges against another three have been dropped, while the rest maintain their innocence. Trial dates haven’t been set. And the money– possibly $18 million – which someone may have fetched for selling that much syrup, was never retrieved.
16×9’s “The Sweetest Heist” airs this Saturday at 7pm.
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