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Police admit gold stolen from Toronto airport is likely overseas

Police admit gold stolen from Toronto airport is likely overseas

Police admit gold stolen from Toronto airport is likely overseas

Peel Regional Police have quietly admitted that millions of dollars worth of gold stolen from Toronto Pearson Airport in April 2023 was likely quickly smuggled out of Canada to the Middle East or South Asia.

“We believe a large portion has gone overseas to markets where gold is abundant,” lead investigator Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity told members of the Peel Police Service Board during a June 21 meeting.

“That would be in Dubai or India, where you can bring gold with serial numbers and they will still respect it and melt it down… And we believe that happened very soon after the incident.”

Police have been investigating the low-tech heist for nearly 15 months, trying to figure out how a man walked into an Air Canada Cargo terminal with a duplicate waybill for a shipment of seafood and then walked away with a pallet full of gold bullion. But little new information has been released to the press or the public.

Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity (left) briefs the Peel Police Service Board on the status of its investigation into the gold heist at Toronto airport in April 2023. Investigators now admit the gold was smuggled out of Canada, likely to India or Dubai, shortly after the robbery.
Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity, left, briefs the Peel Police Service Board on the status of its investigation into the gold heist at Toronto’s airport in April 2023. Investigators now admit the gold was smuggled out of Canada, likely to India or Dubai, shortly after the robbery. (Peel Police Services Board)

On the first anniversary of the robbery, investigators held a flashy news conference to announce that they had arrested nine men in connection with the case and were searching for three more.

However, little was said about the links between the alleged criminals, or what ultimately happened to the 400 kilograms of gold still missing.

The new Police Service Board briefing — held on a summer Friday, without the media present — came on the heels of a CBC News investigation that highlighted several lingering questions about the robbery, including the force’s claims that the robbery was a case of “reverse alchemy” in which gold was turned into weapons, as evidenced by the seizure of 65 handguns. Peel police declined an interview request for that story and declined to answer written questions, even those relating to the most basic details of the crime.

Board members spent several minutes of the meeting criticizing the CBC News report, but the investigators’ presentation validated much of the content of the CBC investigation.

Only a ‘very small amount’ was melted in Mississauga

As well as admitting that the trail now points to Dubai and India, police also acknowledged that the 6,600 gold bars were worth millions more at the time of the theft than they had repeatedly stated.

“The penalty may be $20 million or $34 million, but in my opinion it doesn’t make much difference,” Mavity said. “From a police perspective, the crime is theft worth more than $5,000.”

WATCH | CBC News’ investigation into the gold heist at Toronto airport:

Faulty math and millions lost: Why the Toronto airport gold heist is far from solved

More than a year after the robbery at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, multiple charges have been filed, but tens of millions of dollars worth of gold remain missing. CBC’s Jonathon Gatehouse investigates where the gold might have gone and uncovers major holes in the case police say they have solved.

Detectives also clarified statements they made during an April press conference, debunking earlier suggestions that all the stolen gold had been melted down in the basement of a Mississauga jewellery store.

“We believe a very small amount was melted down at that jewelry store,” Detective Gord Oakes said.

“At no point did we say that 400 kilos of gold were melted by hand in a small jewelry store. That was not the message we wanted to convey,” Mavity added.

Links between accused men

For the first time, police have outlined some of the alleged links between the men charged in connection with the robbery. Among the new details:

  • Architect Grovercharged with theft of more than $5,000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offense, is a “lifelong friend” of Parmpal Sidhuwho worked at the Air Canada Cargo terminal at the time of the robbery, and now faces identical charges.
  • Grover is the owner of the white van that was used in the robbery and the employer of During King-McLeanthe man who police say was driving the truck. King-McLean also faces a charge of theft over $5,000.
  • Grover’s cousin, Amit Jalotawho faces two counts of possession of property obtained by crime, along with charges of theft and conspiracy, “looked after the gold” along with “a partner” Arsalan Chaudharywho faces the same charges. Police allege that Jalota also “facilitated the smelting” of a small amount of gold through Ali RazaMississauga jewellery store owner who faces a charge of possession of property obtained by crime.
  • Prasath Paramalingam and Ammad ChaudharyThe two, who face charges of accessory after the fact, are accused of having “assisted” King-McLean to cross into the United States after the robbery and of having “provided him with the possibility of remaining in the United States for an extended period of time.”
WATCH | Police board meeting sheds light on new details: :

Police say gold from massive Toronto airport robbery is now ‘in Dubai or India’

Police now claim that much of the gold stolen in the massive 2023 heist at Toronto Pearson International Airport is now located overseas, “in Dubai or India.” Police also confirm that the stolen gold is worth millions more than originally announced.

Police are reportedly continuing to investigate the robbery and are searching for both the missing gold and any money that may have been obtained from its sale. Next steps, the board was told, include examining more than 40 electronic devices seized from the suspects and issuing production orders to financial institutions to obtain bank records.

The investigation has cost $5.3 million so far

The board also received an update on the skyrocketing cost of the “Project 24 Karat” investigation: $5.3 million so far, with an estimated final cost of $10 million. To date, the 20 officers assigned to the case have logged 28,000 regular hours and an additional 9,500 hours of overtime.

The update did not provide additional information on the alleged link to cross-border arms trafficking.

Toronto criminal lawyer Jeff Herschberg says police narratives surrounding criminal suspects often don't hold up at trial.
Toronto criminal lawyer Jeff Herschberg says police narratives surrounding criminal suspects often don’t hold up at trial. (Albert Leung/CBC News)

Jeff Hershberg, a criminal lawyer in Toronto, says he is not surprised by the new information.

“I always question the police version. It’s hard not to after seeing everything I’ve seen,” he said. “They have flashy press conferences… and it’s not always the version that comes out once the trial starts.”

“I’ve never seen stolen gold in any of the gun cases I’ve handled. I don’t see the link that the police are trying to make here,” Herschberg added. “Time will tell when the case will be revealed.”

Jonathon Gatehouse can be contacted by email at [email protected], or through CBC’s digitally encrypted Securedrop system at https://www.cbc.ca/securedrop/