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In Canada's Biggest Gold Heist, $22M in Bars, $1.8M In Cash Vanish from Toronto Airport; 6 Arrested

After a year-long investigation, the police have linked the heist to an illegal firearm racket.
Cover Image Source: Air Canada logo at the Toronto Pearson International Airport where the heist happened | Getty Images | Photo by Cole Burston
Cover Image Source: Air Canada logo at the Toronto Pearson International Airport where the heist happened | Getty Images | Photo by Cole Burston

A total of six people have been arrested in connection with a gold heist that was carried out at Toronto’s International Airport last year. The police in Canada and the US on April 16 said it was an “inside job”. Three more warrants have also been issued in the case, and all nine suspects have been charged with over 19 counts for the loot that is dubbed as the largest gold heist in Canadian history.


The heist took place in April 2023, in which 22 million Canadian dollars' worth of gold bars and foreign currency were stolen from the Pearson International Airport. The police have identified at least two former Air Canada employees who allegedly helped out in the heist. As per CNN, one of them is now in custody while an arrest warrant is out for the other.


On April 17, 2023, an air cargo container was brought to the Pearson International Airport. The cargo carrying over 22 million Canadian dollars’ worth of gold bars and foreign currency was supposed to be kept in a secure storage facility within the airport before shipping to its final destination. A total of 6,600 gold bars (weighing over 900 pounds) of 99.9% purity along with about CA$2.5 million ($1.8 million) in bank notes were inside the cargo container, per USA Today. The criminals allegedly hijacked the container before it made it to the secure storage and drove off.

Representative Image | Unsplash | Photo by Jingming Pan
Gold bars (Representative Image) | Unsplash | Photo by Jingming Pan

The thieves gained access to the container which arrived on an Air Canada flight from Zurich, using fake paperwork, the police said. Surveillance footage captured at the site of the heist showed one of the accused, driving a truck up to the warehouse and loading the container. The cargo vanished within hours of its arrival, sending shockwaves across borders.


An investigation, dubbed “Project 24Karat,” was launched to recover the missing cargo and nab the criminals. The operation involved the Pennsylvania division of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Canadian authorities.


The investigation got the first lead in September 2023, when a 25-year-old Canadian man, Durante King-Mclean, was arrested in Pennsylvania for traffic violations. The ATF alleged that King-Mclean was the truck driver who stole the gold. He fled on foot after the police stopped him to search his rental car, per the official press release. A court-authorized search warrant for King-Mclean’s vehicle led to the recovery of 65 firearms that were allegedly going to be illegally smuggled into Canada.


The police allege that the sophisticated organized crime ring planned to use most of the gold and cash to traffic firearms into Canada. “We believe that they’ve melted down the gold and the profits they got from the gold they used to help finance the firearms, obviously purchasing the illegal firearms,” Detective Sgt. Mike Mavity of Peel Regional Police said in a statement. Thus, in the ongoing investigation, only a fraction of the stolen gold bars and cash have been recovered.

After executing a search warrant in Ontario, the police said that they found only five crudely melted gold bangles worth about $90,000, per CNN. Apart from King-Mclean, the police have arrested Air Canada employee Parmpal Sidhu of Ontario, jewelry store owner Ali Raza of Toronto, Amit Jalota of Ontario, Ammad Chaudhary of Ontario, and Prasath Paramalingam of Ontario. The latter five accused were released on bail and are set to appear in court soon, USA Today reported.