Nine People Charged in $14.5 Million Gold Heist in Toronto

Authorities say six people have been arrested in connection to the heist, which is said to be the largest in Canada's history.

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Nine people have been charged in what authorities are calling “the largest gold theft in Canadian history.”

According to NBC News, the heist occurred on April 17, 2023, at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Police said the suspects—at least two of whom are former Air Canada employees—stole an air cargo container that had CA$2.5 million ($1.8 million) in foreign currencies and over 6,000 gold bars valued at more than CA$20 million ($14.5 million). 

“This particular theft has become the largest gold theft in Canadian history,” Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said during a Wednesday press conference, “and it’s one of the largest, for that matter, in North America.”

Authorities said the currencies and bars, which reportedly weighed 923 pounds, were transported from Zurich, Switzerland, on an Air Canada flight and were taken to Toronto cargo facility shortly after. One of the suspects allegedly used a fraudulent airway bill to receive the container and loaded it onto a truck he was driving.

The cargo and currencies were reported missing later that day after Brinks—a U.S. cash handling company—had gone to the storage facility to retrieve the container. Brinks ultimately sued Air Canada in October 2023, saying the airline’s “negligence and carelessness” cost them $17 million. 

About a month before the lawsuit was filed, the suspected truck driver was arrested in Pennsylvania for traffic violations. U.S. law enforcement said the man—identified as Durante King-Mclean—was a Canadian resident who was in the country illegally and was found with 65 illegal firearms in the rented vehicle. 

“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 told reporters. “We believe that’s how the gold and money has now kind of worked into the firearms trafficking aspect of the investigation.”

The probe, dubbed “Project 24Karat,” was a collaborative effort with the Pennsylvania division of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Five others have since been arrested in connection to the heist: ex-Air Canada employee Parmpal Sidhu, Amit Jalota, Ammad Chaudhary, Prasath Paramalingam, and jewelry store owner Ali Raza. Authorities have also issued arrest warrants for three more suspects, including former Air Canada manager Simran Preet Panesar.

The men are collectively facing 19 charges. Those who were arrested have since been released on bail.

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

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