Apr 17, 2024
4 mins read
4 mins read

Charges Laid One Year After Historic Canadian Gold Heist

Charges Laid One Year After Historic Canadian Gold Heist
Travelers are seen at the international arrivals area at the Toronto Pearson Airport in Toronto, Canada, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Image: COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

On April 17, at a news conference, Canada’s Peel Regional Police said that an investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has resulted in multiple arrests and 19 charges in relation to a massive gold heist that unfolded at Canada’s Pearson International Airport in April, 2023.

Peel police chief, Nishan Duraiappah said at the news conference, “This story is a sensational one, and one which probably, we jokingly say, belongs in a Netflix series.”

Almost one year to the day, authorities say two men were arrested who worked at the airport and were instrumental in pulling off the heist. 

One man, Parmpal Sidhu, 54, from Brampton, Ontario, who worked in a warehouse at the airport has been arrested and charged with theft over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offense, while another man, Simran Preet Panesar, 31, also from Bramptom, has had a warrant issued for his arrest. 

Authorities say Panesar actually provided a tour of the facility to police following the theft before he resigned from his position last summer. 

In total, 6,600 bars of pure gold, valued at around $20 million CAD and another $2.5 million worth of various currencies were stolen from an Air Canada warehouse on April 17, 2023, shortly after arriving in Canada on a flight from Zurich. 

How they did it

The heist, which baffled authorities at the time it was perpetrated, was slowly figured out over the course of the investigation.

What investigators found was that a man, driving a five-ton delivery truck, approached the warehouse and gained entry by presenting a legitimate airway bill. The gold and cash was then loaded into the truck and the driver exited the warehouse.

The airway bill was a duplicate of a document for a seafood delivery that was completed the previous day and was printed within the Air Canada facility, lead investigator, Det.-Sgt. Mike Mavity said at the press conference. 

Investigators then pieced together the route the truck took by assembling various security video footage before losing track of the truck in north Milton, Ontario, Mavity said. 

The driver has been identified as 25-year-old Durante King-Mclean.

Currently, King-Mclean is in police custody in the U.S. after he was arrested in September at a traffic stop in rural Pennsylvania. 

Authorities discovered 65 firearms in his possession, including two that had been modified to be fully automatic and five “ghost guns.” 

It is believed that the firearms were intended to be trafficked to Canada. 

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

Canadian authorities have also issued an arrest warrant for King-Mclean, who is wanted in Canada for theft over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of a crime. 

Gold not recovered

Despite finding the alleged perpetrators, finding the gold is proving to be much more difficult.

“We believe the gold has been melted down and reconstituted into local and international markets,” Mavity said. 

A task force set up to investigate the theft executed 37 search warrants over the past year that turned up $430,000 in cash, pieces of gold jewelry worth around $89,000, as well as items used to melt down and smelt gold like casts and molds.

“Investigators also found two so-called debt lists, which are most commonly associated with drug trafficking investigations. One of the lists amounts to $10.23 million, while the other totals $9.94 million,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported. 

Arrest warrants have been issued for two other men believed to be involved in the heist; Archit Grover, from Brampton and Arsalan Chaudhary from Mississauga.