Canadian authorities are searching for an unidentified person or organized crime group who stole more than $20 million worth of gold earlier this week in what some have labeled one of the biggest robberies in Canadian history.
According to the Toronto Sun, authorities initially said that an unknown person or group moved 3,600 pounds of the precious metal through the Pearson International Airport in the Toronto area of Canada, which customers around the world often use to move mined gold. The outlet reported that the airport handles 45% of Canada’s air cargo traffic from 175 countries worldwide.
Peel Regional Police told Bloomberg News that a plane carrying a container with more than C$20 million ($14.8 million) in gold and other “high-value goods” was taken from a cargo holding area of the airport.
“An aircraft arrived here at the airport in the early evening,” Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn said. “As per normal procedure, the aircraft was unloaded, and cargo was transported from the aircraft to a holding cargo facility.”
“This is very rare,” Duivesteyn said, adding the gold was removed by “illegal means.”
The Sun reported authorities allegedly believe the movie-like heist was carried out locally and have launched an investigation into organized crime groups in the region, which has been known to have either people or allies placed at Pearson, monitoring airport activities.
The outlet said investigators don’t believe the gold was stolen to fund terrorists, asserting that authorities would have shut down portions of the airport as soon as they became aware of the robbery.
“We feel this to be an isolated incident,” Duivesteyn said. “For the public worried about flying out, there should be no concern. We do not consider this a threat to public safety.”
Investigators, however, do not know if someone stole the gold from the back of an employee’s pickup truck or smuggled it out of the country through various international flights.
Pearson International Airport has a history of gold heists, according to The Sun, dating back to 1952 when only four out of ten boxes showed up that were bound for Montreal. At least four other schemes took place at the airport, with one heist that saw $68.5 million worth of gold at the time, or about $164.6 million today.