9 charged in $20M gold heist at Toronto airport

Peel Police announce arrests one year after $20M in gold bars were stolen from a cargo facility at Pearson airport. Shauna Hunt with the details of Canada’s largest gold heist.

By Lucas Casaletto

Nine people, including Air Canada employees, are facing charges in connection to the $20-million Toronto Pearson airport gold heist that was meticulously carried out exactly one year ago, Peel Regional Police said.

Police announced the arrests with the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau at a press conference on Wednesday. The joint investigation, dubbed “Project 24K,” is short for 24 karats of gold.

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

The nine accused were identified, including 25-year-old Durante King-Mclean, 34-year-old Prasath Paramalingam and 36-year-old Archit Grover, all of Brampton, among others. King-Mclean and Grover remain wanted Canada-wide.

Parmpal Sidhu, 54, of Brampton (Air Canada employee), Amit Jalota, 40, of Oakville, Ammad Chaudhary, 43, of Georgetown, Ali Raza, 37, of Toronto, and Paramalingam were taken into custody and released on conditions.

Canada-wide arrest warrants have been issued for Simran Preet Panesar, 31, of Brampton, a former Air Canada employee working with the airline at the time of the heist, Arsalan Chaudhary, 42 of Brampton, and Grover.

Authorities confirmed some of these individuals, such as King-Mclean, Paramalingam and Grover, were indicted in the U.S. for a conspiracy to engage in international firearms trafficking.

U.S. officials became involved in September 2023, a few months after the gold heist at Pearson airport, when one of the suspects, identified as King-Mclean, was pulled over for suspected motor vehicle violations in Pennsylvania.

Police determined that King-Mclean, who fled the scene on foot, had been in the country illegally. He’s now in police custody in the U.S. but remains wanted Canada-wide on charges related to the heist.

Responding officers searched his rental vehicle and located 65 firearms that were allegedly destined to be illegally smuggled into Canada. Two of those firearms were fully automatic and considered machine guns under federal law, U.S. authorities noted, and 11 of the firearms were determined to be stolen.

9 men face 19 charges, some wanted Canada wide

The U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed that Paramalingam was involved in the alleged firearm trafficking with King-Mclean and had conspired with the accused since April 2023, around the same time as the Pearson gold heist.

“We are alleging that some individuals who participated in the gold theft are also involved in aspects of firearm trafficking,” said Detective Sergeant Michael Mavity.

U.S. investigators said Paramalingam orchestrated King-Mclean’s illegal entry into the U.S. and arranged funding for King-Mclean to purchase the various firearms which he obtained in Florida, Georgia and elsewhere.

Grover was charged in the U.S. as an accessory after the fact for his alleged assistance to King-Mclean. This includes concealing evidence concerning King-Mclean’s attempted gun smuggling and providing co-conspirators with information.

Details of 2023 gold heist at Pearson airport and what was recovered

The flight carrying a cargo of 6,600 gold bars landed from Zurich, Switzerland, at Pearson airport just before 4 p.m. on April 17, 2023. Police have said the shipments, believed to have been stored in a container roughly five to six square feet, were deposited at an Air Canada warehouse at the airport two hours later.

Just before 3 a.m. on April 18, 2023, Peel Regional Police reported the cargo, which weighed 400 kilograms and contained gold valued at over $20 million and over $2 million in foreign currency, missing. 

Peel Regional Police officers tracked down a transport truck that had the stolen goods stored, which was present at Wednesday’s press conference. Authorities were able to confirm that King-Mclean was the driver, and the gold was “crudely fashioned” to make bracelets and other monetary items.

“They needed people inside Air Canada to facilitate this theft,” Mavity said.

Approximately $430,000 in Canadian currency, believed to be profits from selling the gold, was seized as part of the investigation. Police also discovered smelting pots, which they say were used to make jewellery. Raza, one of the men charged in the heist, was operating a jewellery store at the time.


Deputy Chief Nick Milinovich said it was the largest gold heist in Canadian history and reportedly the sixth-largest in world crime history.

“Organized crime and criminals who come to our community, target it or attempt to profit from it can expect the same outcome,” said Milinovich. “This is evidence of that.”

A lawsuit filed against Air Canada by American security company Brink’s alleged that a thief presented a forged document to collect about $23.8 million in goods from a holding facility at Pearson airport. 

Brink’s statement of claim alleged that Air Canada staff handed over 400 kilos of gold, worth more than $20 million, plus nearly US$2 million in cash to the thief.

The company alleged that Air Canada employees failed to properly examine and authenticate the document shared by an “unidentified individual” during the planned heist. Air Canada denied the allegations and claimed it had not taken out insurance on the valuable cargo.

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