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Two Indian-origin men among 6 arrested in Canada's largest $22.5 million gold and cash heist

Parmpal Sidhu, 54, was working with Air Canada at the time of the crime, while Amit Jalota, 40, has also been arrested. The six arrested people were allegedly involved in the theft of a cargo container carrying 6,600 bars of gold worth over $22.5 million.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ottawa (Canada) Published on: April 18, 2024 20:42 IST
Canada heist, Indian origin men
Image Source : AP Police opening the back of a recovered truck during a press conference on the gold theft in Canada.

Ottawa: The six persons arrested in connection with a multimillion-dollar gold and cash heist in Canada last year include at least two Indian-origin men. Parmpal Sidhu, 54, and Amit Jalota, 40, both from Ontario, were arrested on Wednesday along with Ammad Chaudhary, 43, Ali Raza, 37, and Prasath Paramalingam, 35, in the biggest gold theft in Canada's history, according to reports.

On April 17, 2023, an air cargo container carrying more than 22 million Canadian dollars’ worth of gold bars and foreign currency was stolen from a secure storage facility using fake paperwork, said police. The gold and currency had just arrived on an Air Canada flight from Zurich, Switzerland. Two former Air Canada employees allegedly helped in pulling off the heist.

Parmpal Sidhu was working with Air Canada during the time of the crime. The arrests were announced after a lengthy probe into the crime reported last year. The Canadian authorities also issued warrants for three more persons in the case, Peel Regional Police (PRP) said.

Arrest warrants against three persons

The police have issued Canada-wide warrants for Simran Preet Panesar, 31, from Brampton, who was also an Air Canada employee at the time of the theft; Archit Grover, 36, from Brampton and Arsalan Chaudhary, a 42-year-old man from Mississauga, according to local reports. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick confirmed Sidhu and Panesar's employment with the national flag carrier.

"One left the company prior to the arrests announced today and the second has been suspended," he said. "As this is now before the courts, we are limited in our ability to comment further."

Peel police said that a flight from Switzerland landed at Pearson International Airport carrying a cargo containing 6,600 bars of .9999 per cent pure gold, weighing 400 kilogrammes, valued at over $20 million, which was then offloaded and transported to a separate location on Airport property. The cargo was reported missing on April 18 last year. 

"Peel Regional Police immediately started the investigation, which has crossed borders, and we have been working collaboratively with the Philadelphia Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)," the statement said. One person, Durante King-Mclean, was arrested in the US for possessing 65 illegal firearms.

Air Canada suspended one cargo division employee

Air Canada said it had suspended one cargo division employee charged in the theft while the other, who worked in the same department at the time of the heist, had left the airline before the charges were announced. Investigators from the Peel regional police, working with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, recovered one kg of gold (2.2 pounds) and about C$434,000 in Canadian currency.

"We believe that they've melted down the gold and then the profits they got from the gold, they used to help finance the firearms," Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity said. Police also recovered some 65 firearms that investigators allege were purchased with the proceeds from the theft. 

“Our investigators and entire service recognized the heightened interest and impact this incident had in our community. We immediately deployed the necessary resources to address and ensure arrests are made in this complex and multi-faceted investigation that crossed international borders. I commend the incredible work done by our investigators, the ATF, other law enforcement partners, and our community for working together to identify and arrest those responsible for this brazen crime.” Nishan Duraiappah, Peel Regional Police Chief.

Following the heist, Miami-based transport and security services provider Brinks sued Air Canada in October, alleging "negligence and carelessness" by the airline. Brinks had been hired by Swiss bank Raiffeisen Schweiz and precious metals refining company Valcambi to move the valuables from Zurich to Toronto. Overall, PRP has identified and charged or issued warrants for nine individuals with over 19 charges.

(with inputs from agencies)

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