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Cops closing in on gang behind £12MILLION gold bullion heist from airport as six arrested over Goldfinger-style plot

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COPS are closing in on a gang of thieves who carried out one of the biggest gold heists in history at a Canadian airport last year.

Nine suspects have been identified and six people arrested over the Goldfinger-style plot which saw thieves vanish into the night with £12million worth of gold.

A 25-year-old is alleged to have driven the gold out of the airport in a five-tonne truck

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A 25-year-old is alleged to have driven the gold out of the airport in a five-tonne truckCredit: Peel Police
Truck driver Durante King-Mclean is captured on surveillance at the airport on the day of the heist, cops say

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Truck driver Durante King-Mclean is captured on surveillance at the airport on the day of the heist, cops sayCredit: Peel Police
Six gold bracelets valued at more than $89,000 (£52,000) have been seized by cops

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Six gold bracelets valued at more than $89,000 (£52,000) have been seized by copsCredit: Peel Police
Cops have also seized C$430,000 (£251,000) cash

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Cops have also seized C$430,000 (£251,000) cashCredit: Peel Police

A total of C$22.5million (£13.1million) worth of gold and cash was stolen from Toronto Pearson International on April 17 last year, leaving Canadian cops scrambling to recover the precious goods.

The “sensational” story is one cops say belongs “on a Netflix series”.

Canadian and US authorities yesterday called a press conference to discuss the case dubbed “24Karat” and claimed the heist was an inside job, with two Air Canada employees among the nine suspects.

The group of suspects – which includes the driver of the truck that transported 50kg of cash and 6,600 gold bars out of the airport, identified as Durante King-Mclean – is facing a total of 19 charges.

More on world’s biggest heists

A “vast and complex” investigation spanning two countries led to five arrests in Canada and one, of 25-year-old King-Mclean, in the US.

Police released images of King-Mclean, the five-tonne truck, and a duplicated airway bill that King-Mclean allegedly used to collect the gold from an Air Canada cargo facility.

The airway bill was genuine but had been used for a seafood delivery the day before, the lead detective on investigation 24Karat, Mike Mavity, told reporters yesterday.

Facility staff did not realise the document had been duplicated until three hours after King-Mclean had allegedly made off with the gold.

And police were not alerted to the missing gold until five hours after facility staff came to the revelation.

Mr Mavity said investigators were able to track the route taken by driver King-Mclean after he made off with the gold by reviewing surveillance from more than 220 businesses and homes.

Gang steals £24MILLION in Ocean’s Eleven-style heist sneaking in roof & dodging alarms…before vanishing without a trace

Cops said last year that the gold – from Zurich, Switzerland – had arrived in the early evening of April 17 and was offloaded to a secure warehouse on the premises.

It was to be moved to markets around the world – before suspect King-Mclean allegedly showed up with a duplicated airway bill to collect it, trucking it out of the airport without anyone realising.

King-Mclean was later stopped in Pennsylvania for a traffic violation, where state troopers discovered 65 firearms in his rental vehicle.

The suspects were believed by authorities to have melted down the gold and used the cash they earned from sales to buy firearms and bring the weapons into Canada.

Cops were investigating the source of the firearms seized from King-Mclean – two of which had been modified to have fully-automatic capabilities and five of which had been stripped of serial numbers – and were looking for potential links to other smuggling operations.

One of the Air Canada employees suspected in the heist, 31-year-old Simran Preet Panesar, had given regional police in Peel, Ontario a tour of the cargo warehouse in the early stages of the investigation.

Police are yet to locate Panesar, a former manager at the airline who resigned last summer, for arrest, The Times reports.

Durante King-McLean, 25, from Brampton is alleged to have driven the truck

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Durante King-McLean, 25, from Brampton is alleged to have driven the truckCredit: Peel Police
Police have been unable to locate former Air Canada employee Simran Preet Panesar, 31, since he resigned last summer

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Police have been unable to locate former Air Canada employee Simran Preet Panesar, 31, since he resigned last summerCredit: Peel Police
Parmpal Sidhu, 54, is the second Air Canada employee arrested for his alleged involvement in the heist

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Parmpal Sidhu, 54, is the second Air Canada employee arrested for his alleged involvement in the heistCredit: Peel Police
Police also released an image of the duplicated airway bill used to collect the gold

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Police also released an image of the duplicated airway bill used to collect the goldCredit: Peel Police

A second Air Canada employee, 54-year-old Parmpal Sidhu, has been arrested.

Most of the stolen loot remains unaccounted for today – although authorities have seized hundreds of thousands of dollars believed to be profits from sold gold, as well as six gold bracelets, smelting pots and pans, and debt lists of money distribution.

Chairman of the Peel regional police board Nando Iannica said: “This is a story about reverse alchemy.

“This is not just a story about gold, it is a story about how gold becomes guns and stolen vehicles become guns.

“And gold can be remade and gold can be insured, and so can cars, but people’s lives and what happens when guns are involved cannot.”

King-Mclean faces a maximum of 35 years in prison if convicted in the US, while his alleged accomplices in Canada face up to five years.

Both the airline and the armoured car company that transported the gold have claimed that the other is to blame for the heist.

The parties are currently locked in a bitter lawsuit over the theft.

THE WORLD’S BIGGEST GOLD HEISTS

THE CANADIAN gold heist of 2023 is one of the biggest the world has ever seen.

It is the sixth-largest gold heist in history, according to information from the Gold Bullion Company.

These are the largest hauls of gold in history, based on the weight of the gold stolen:

  1. Beirut, 1976: A group of robbers associated with the Palestine Liberation Organisation stole 12,000kg of gold from the British Bank of the Middle East during Lebanon’s civil war.
  2. London, 1983: Six men posing as cops broke into a Brink’s-Mat warehouse near Heathrow, armed with shotguns, and stole 3,000kg of gold.
  3. Sao Paulo, 2019: Heavily-armed men dressed as cops raided a warehouse at Guarulhos airport and stole 748kg of gold.
  4. Miami, 1983: Two men with stockings over their heads targeted a jewellery smelter and stole 736kg of gold.
  5. Johannesburg, 2013: Dozens of miners were arrested over a heist at the Sibanye mine from where 500kg of gold was stolen.
  6. Toronto, 2023: Nine suspects were identified and six people arrested after 400kg of gold was nicked from Toronto Pearson international airport.
  7. Sydney, 1995: A lone safe-cracker stole 285kg of gold from property tycoon Kerry Packer.
  8. Curacao, 2012: Thieves posing as cops raided a fishing boat off the Dutch Caribbean island and made off with 216kg of gold.
  9. Near Folkestone, 1855: Some 91kg of gold were stolen in transit from London to Folkestone in what was dubbed the Great Gold Robbery.
  10. Singapore, 2012: Two men were involved in a heist where 70kg of gold was stolen.
State troopers found 65 firearms in King-Mclean's rented vehicle in Pennsylvania

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State troopers found 65 firearms in King-Mclean’s rented vehicle in PennsylvaniaCredit: Peel Police
Police also seized debt lists of money distribution in their investigation

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Police also seized debt lists of money distribution in their investigationCredit: Peel Police
C$22.5million (£13.1million) worth of gold and cash was stolen from Toronto Pearson International in Toronto, Ontario

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C$22.5million (£13.1million) worth of gold and cash was stolen from Toronto Pearson International in Toronto, OntarioCredit: Alamy
Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity speaks as authorities give details of the arrests made a year after the gold and cash were stolen

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Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity speaks as authorities give details of the arrests made a year after the gold and cash were stolenCredit: Reuters
Police officers on Wednesday open the back of the truck used in the heist

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Police officers on Wednesday open the back of the truck used in the heistCredit: Reuters

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