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Canadian police charge 9 suspects in historic $20 million airport gold heist

One year after a brazen gold heist at the Toronto airport, nine suspects have been charged in an investigation police said "belongs in a Netflix series."

In total, 6,600 gold bars weighing over 800 pounds, worth an estimated $20 million, and about $2.5 million in foreign currencies were stolen from Toronto Pearson International Airport in April 2023. At the time, police described the case as "very rare." Now they call it the largest gold heist in Canadian history.

In a news conference Wednesday, police said 19 charges had been laid in the joint investigation — dubbed Project 24K — involving Peel Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Five suspects, including an Air Canada employee, were arrested then released with conditions and will appear in court at a later date. A warrant was issued for another man who was also an employee of the airline at the time of the theft. In addition to the warrant for the former employee, two more Canada-wide warrants were issued for those not yet apprehended.

Police said the gold arrived on an afternoon flight from Zurich, Switzerland, on April 17, 2023. The container with the valuable shipment was then taken from the Air Canada plane and brought to a cargo facility. One of the suspects was able to gain entry to the facility, load the items onto a delivery truck and drive away. Police said the driver presented a fraudulent airway bill, a document with details on a shipment.

Arrests made in 20 million gold heist at airport
Sgt. Mike Mavity of the Peel Police in Canada speaks to the media about arrests made in the theft of $20 million in gold from Toronto's Pearson International Airport, as part of Project 24Karat, a joint investigation with U.S. federal agents, on April 17, 2024.  Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Later in the evening, Brink's Canada, the company hired to transport the gold, arrived to collect the shipment and found that it had already been taken. Brink's sued Air Canada in October, saying the airline failed to properly secure the cargo, according to The Toronto Star newspaper.

Police said the driver of the truck was identified as 25-year-old Durante King-McLean, who is in custody in the United States. He was arrested in Pennsylvania in September after state troopers found 65 firearms in his rental vehicle.

"We are alleging that some individuals who participated in this gold theft are also involved in aspects of firearms trafficking," lead investigator Det.-Sgt. Mike Mavity said.

Police seized six crudely made gold bracelets during the investigation, valued at around $89,000. Mavity said smelting equipment, used to melt down the stolen gold bars to disguise them as items like bracelets, was also seized. A jewelry store owner is among those arrested.

The theft was bigger than a 1990 heist at Montreal's Dorval Airport that netted $13.7 million in gold and other valuables.

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