Toronto Pearson gold heist: Multiple people charged in historic $20M theft

Click to play video: 'Pearson gold heist: arrests made but very little gold recovered'
Pearson gold heist: arrests made but very little gold recovered
One year after thieves stole $20 million in gold from a warehouse at Pearson airport, Peel police announced half a dozen arrests. They included one Air Canada employee and another is being sought. But as Sean O’Shea reports, almost all of the gold is gone – Apr 17, 2024

Multiple people have been arrested in connection with the largest gold heist in Canadian history at Toronto Pearson airport last year, Peel Regional Police say.

The 2023 heist, which made international headlines at the time, involved 6,600 gold bars valued at over $20 million stolen from Toronto Pearson International Airport, Det. Sgt. Mike Mavity told reporters on Wednesday. Cash valued at $2.5 million was also taken.

The gold and currency was ordered from a refinery in Zurich, Switzerland, Mavity said, and then transported in a container through an Air Canada flight that landed in Toronto.

That flight landed exactly one year ago on April 17, 2023 at 3:56 p.m. The cargo was then offloaded from the plane to an Air Canada cargo facility at 6:32 p.m.

Click to play video: 'Peel police explain how unprecedented gold, money heist occurred'
Peel police explain how unprecedented gold, money heist occurred

Mavity alleged the suspect arrived at the facility with a “fraudulent airway bill” and gave it to an attendant.

Story continues below advertisement

“The airway bill is for a legitimate shipment of seafood that was picked up the day before,” Mavity said. “This duplicate airway bill was printed off from a printer with an Air Canada cargo.”

Peel Regional Police say this “fraudulent airway bill” was used in the 2023 Pearson gold heist. The force, alongside the U.S. ATF, announced arrests into the case on Wednesday. Peel Regional Police photo

He said a short time later, a forklift arrived with a container of gold and foreign currency and was loaded into the rear of the suspect’s truck, who then drove off with the goods.

At around 9:30 p.m., Brink’s Canada employees went to the Air Canada cargo site to pick up the shipment of gold and currency. Police were contacted the following day and an investigation launched, he said. Brink’s has filed a lawsuit against Air Canada over the stolen cargo.

Video surveillance obtained by officers showed the truck drove west into Halton Region to north of Milton. That region is more rural, and eventually the truck was lost, Mavity said.

Story continues below advertisement

Thirty-seven search warrants were issued along with 70 production orders. Mavity said police seized $430,000 in Canadian currency during the search warrants.

Click to play video: 'What led to a breakthrough in the Toronto airport gold heist?'
What led to a breakthrough in the Toronto airport gold heist?

“We believe this money is some of the profits the suspects made when they sold the gold,” Mavity alleged.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Also seized were six crudely made gold bracelets resembling bangles that were sent off for expert examination. They were considered to be pure gold and the total value was over $89,000, Mavity said.

In addition, officers seized smelting pots, casts and molds.

“These are commonly used in the industry to change the composition of gold,” Mavity said. “We believe the items you see here today were used to change the composition of the stolen gold bars to different forms like the bracelets.”

Story continues below advertisement
Peel Regional Police say these gold bracelets were seized as part of its investigation into the 2023 gold heist at Pearson airport. Peel Regional Police photo

He also alleges lists obtained at two separate locations “actually show where the money was distributed when the gold was sold by the suspects.”

The truck allegedly used to steal the gold and cash was also seized by police.

Multiple people arrested, charges laid

Nine people have been identified in connection with the case and have been arrested, charged or have Canada-wide warrants issued. So far, more than 19 charges have been laid such as theft, possession of property obtained by crime, among others.

Story continues below advertisement

Those charged include Parmpal Sidhu, a 54-year-old Air Canada employee and Ali Raza, a 37-year-old man from Toronto, who is a jewelry store owner, Mavity said. Others include Amit Jalota, a 40-year-old man from Oakville, Ammad Chaudhary, a 43-year-old man from Georgetown and Prasath Paramalingam, a 35-year-old man from Brampton.

Click to play video: '$20 million gold heist at Pearson'
$20 million gold heist at Pearson

The accused have been released on bail and will appear in court at a later date.

Canada-wide arrest warrants have also been issued for Simran Preet Panesar, a 31-year-old man from Brampton who was a former Air Canada employee who was employed there at the time of the theft, Mavity said. They are also looking for Archit Grover, a 36-year-old man from Brampton and Arsalan Chaudhary, a 42-year-old man from Mississauga.

The driver who allegedly stole the cargo from Pearson, identified by police as Durante King-Mclean from Brampton, was stopped in a rental vehicle in September 2023 by Pennsylvania police who found dozens of illegal firearms inside. He tried to get away from police on foot, but was arrested, Mavity said.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Peel Regional Police say this suspect and truck were involved in the notorious 2023 Pearson gold heist. The force, alongside the U.S. ATF, announced arrests in the case Wednesday morning. Peel Regional Police photo

King-Mclean is currently in custody in the U.S. on firearms trafficking-related charges.

Eric DeGree, a special agent for U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau in Pennsylvania, said King-Mclean was illegally in the U.S. and alleges the firearms found in the rental vehicle were destined for Canada.

“King-Mclean was also listed in law enforcement databases, which alerted us to contact the Peel Regional Police and thus our cooperation,” DeGree said.

Click to play video: 'Multiple people arrested in connection with $20M+ in gold stolen from Toronto’s Pearson airport'
Multiple people arrested in connection with $20M+ in gold stolen from Toronto’s Pearson airport

— with files from Aaron D’Andrea.


Sponsored content