Gun smuggling arrest in U.S. related to $20M gold heist at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario


Published April 19, 2024 at 6:06 pm

Guns seized as part of Pearson gold heist in Mississauga.
Some of the 65 guns seized by police near Philadelphia that were allegedly bought using melted-down gold stolen from Pearson Airport in Mississauga. (Photo: Peel Regional Police)

A woman from Fort Lauderdale is the latest person to be arrested as police in both Canada and the U.S. round up alleged ring members believed to have been involved in the brazen theft of $23 million in gold and cash one year ago from Pearson Airport in Mississauga and a cross-border gun smuggling operation that sprung up soon after the historic heist.

Officials with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said in a news release this week Jalisa Edwards, 25, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was being sought on charges of conspiring to engage in international firearms trafficking.

Dawn Clark, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Harrisburg, PA, told in an email on Friday Edwards was arrested in Florida on Thursday and charged. She’s expected to appear in court on Monday.

Authorities in Harrisburg said Edwards and three Brampton men — Durante King-Mclean, 25, Prasath Paramalingam, 35, and Archit Grover, 36 — all face firearms and/or other charges related to a federal indictment in that jurisdiction.

King-Mclean, who police allege drove the five-tonne getaway truck that collected the huge gold and cash shipment from an Air Canada cargo warehouse at Pearson Airport on April 17, 2023, and Paramalingam also face charges laid this week by Peel Regional Police.

King-Mclean remains in police custody in Pennsylvania while Paramalingam appeared in Brampton court and was then released conditionally until a future court date.

Grover, meanwhile, is wanted on both a Canada-wide warrant by Peel police and on an arrest warrant in the U.S. He remains on the run.

The five-tonne truck used to steal $20 million in gold and $2.5 million in cash from Pearson Airport in Mississauga. (Photo: Peel Regional Police)

Peel police announced on Wednesday, exactly one year after what they described as the largest-ever gold heist in Canada and one of the biggest in the world, that six men had been arrested and charged (including King-Mclean in the U.S.) while three others remained at large and hunted on Canada-wide arrest warrants.

The nine suspects face a wide range of charges in connection with the massive spring 2023 theft that immediately garnered international headlines and had police describing it — and the ensuing year-long investigation — as something out of a Hollywood heist movie or “Netflix series.”

Shortly after a flight from Zurich, Switzerland landed with the precious cargo just a few minutes before 4 p.m. on April 17, 2023, two men allegedly used their positions inside the Air Canada warehouse to set the crime in motion, investigators said this week.

Pearson airport Mississauga gold heist Oakville Georgetown

Video capture shows what police say was the container of gold and cash being loaded onto a truck at an Air Canada cargo facility at Pearson Airport. After leaving with the valuable load, the driver took Highway 401 to Milton before eventually disappearing somewhere north of there. (Photo: Peel Regional Police YouTube)

Using paperwork related to a shipment of seafood that had arrived the previous day, the men are believed to have prepared the gold and cash for a seemingly legitimate transfer onto the five-tonne truck that backed up to a loading bay at the cargo facility a couple of minutes after 6:30 p.m.

A warehouse worker used a forklift to load the valuables onto the large vehicle and the truck then casually drove away from the airport and headed to Highway 401, police said.

A short time later, after exiting the country’s busiest highway just west of Oakville, the truck and its driver — and the 6,600 stolen gold bars worth some $20 million in Canadian funds in addition to $2.5 million (Canadian) in foreign cash — disappeared somewhere north of Milton.

Image shows partial route Peel Regional Police say a five-tonne truck took toward Milton shortly after it collected the gold and cash from an Air Canada cargo warehouse at Pearson Airport in Mississauga. (Photo: Peel Regional Police)

Fast-forward several months to last September when the man believed to have been behind the wheel of the getaway truck was arrested by state troopers in Pennsylvania as he drove a rental car carrying 65 guns that had been allegedly purchased using melted-down gold and were headed back to the streets of Canadian cities, police said.

U.S. authorities said the car was pulled over on the night of Sept. 2 for several traffic violations and the driver quickly tried to flee on foot, but was caught.

A subsequent search of the rented vehicle “led to the recovery of 65 firearms that were allegedly destined to be illegally smuggled into Canada,” the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated. “Two of those firearms were fully automatic and considered machine guns under federal law. Eleven of the firearms were determined to be stolen and one firearm had an obliterated serial number.”

Police in the U.S. said the guns were bought in Florida and Georgia, among other locations, using money given to a suspect by one of his alleged co-conspirators.

Edwards and Grover were charged by a grand jury “as accessories after the fact for their alleged assistance” to one of the other suspects in, among other things, concealing evidence related to the attempted gun smuggling, U.S. authorities said.

The investigation in the U.S. also involves the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, more widely known simply as the ATF, Pennsylvania State Police and Homeland Security Investigations.

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