Peel Police Arrest 9 Suspects in $22.5 Million Gold Heist at Toronto Airport

Massive $22.5M gold heist at Toronto airport uncovered, with 9 arrests and 19 charges. Organized crime ring used insider knowledge to pull off Canada's largest gold theft.

Sakchi Khandelwal
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Peel Police Arrest 9 Suspects in $22.5 Million Gold Heist at Toronto Airport

Peel Police Arrest 9 Suspects in $22.5 Million Gold Heist at Toronto Airport

Peel Regional Police, in a joint investigation with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), have arrested nine people and laid 19 charges in connection with the theft of $22.5 million in gold and cash from Toronto Pearson International Airport in April 2022. The heist, which involved the theft of 6,600 gold bars worth over $20 million Canadian dollars ($14.5 million) and $2.5 million Canadian dollars ($1.8 million) in foreign currencies, is being called the largest gold theft in Canadian history.

The investigation, dubbed 'Project 24Karat,' revealed that the theft was an inside job orchestrated by an organized crime ring, with at least two former Air Canada employees allegedly assisting in the heist. The suspects used a legitimate airway bill to gain access to the cargo facility and load the gold and cash onto a truck from a shipment that had arrived from Zurich, Switzerland.

Among those charged are Parmpal Sidhu, an Air Canada warehouse employee, and Simran Preet Panesar, a former Air Canada manager who gave police a tour of the cargo facility after the theft. The truck driver who allegedly picked up the gold, Durante King-Mclean, was arrested in the U.S. on firearms and trafficking-related charges. Police are still searching for three additional suspects, including another former Air Canada manager.

Why this matters: The brazen heist highlights the sophisticated nature of organized crime and the vulnerability of airport security systems. The theft also underscores the link between gold smuggling and the illegal firearms trade, as some of the stolen gold was melted down and used to purchase weapons.

Authorities have so far recovered only $90,000 Canadian dollars ($65,000) of the stolen goods, including a kilogram of gold, smelting equipment, and cash worth about C$434,000. U.S. ATF agents also seized 65 illegal firearms, including two fully automatic weapons and five untraceable 'ghost guns,' that were allegedly destined to be smuggled into Canada as a result of this investigation.

"This is the biggest theft of gold in Canada's history, and it took place right here at Pearson airport," said Peel Regional Police Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn. "The theft was an inside job, and the suspects used their knowledge of the airport and the cargo system to pull it off." Police believe the gold has been melted down and reconstituted into local and international markets, making recovery of the full amount unlikely. The investigation remains ongoing as authorities work to bring all those involved to justice and recover as much of the stolen gold and cash as possible.

Key Takeaways

  • $22.5M gold/cash heist from Toronto airport, largest in Canadian history
  • 9 suspects arrested, 19 charges laid; inside job by organized crime ring
  • 2 former Air Canada employees allegedly assisted in the heist
  • Only $90K recovered; stolen gold melted down and used to buy guns
  • Authorities still searching for 3 more suspects; investigation ongoing