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Where did the gold go? Crime expert weighs in on unfolding Pearson airport heist investigation

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Almost 7,000 bars of pure gold were stolen from Pearson International Airport exactly one year ago during an elaborate heist, but so far only a tiny fraction of that stolen loot has been found.

So, where did 400 kilograms of gold valued at an estimated $20 million go?

That’s one of the burning questions investigators are now working to answer after charging nine suspects in connection with the April 17, 2023 heist.

Six of those suspects have been taken into custody, while three others remain outstanding.

“The missing piece (of this investigation) is where did it go?” CTV News crime expert Mark Mendelson, himself a former Toronto police homicide detective, said during an interview with CP24 on Wednesday.

“Part of doing this heist was that they needed to have purchasers readily available. This isn’t three bucks or three pounds worth of gold you stick in a knapsack and then you walk out the door with it. It's almost 1,000 pounds in gold. You can't just go to your local cash-for-gold guy at some strip mall and say, ‘Hey, I got a trunk full of gold how much you're going to give me for this?’ So they have to have had some plans in order.”

Police said on Wednesday that two of the accused in the theft worked for Air Canada at the time of the incident, while another owned a jewelry store in Toronto.

As part of their investigation, dubbed Project 24K, investigators were able to seize six gold bangles, valued at about $89,000.

But it remains unclear where the rest of the gold ended up.

Police, for their part, have said that they believe some of it was likely melted down and sold with the proceeds used to purchase illegal guns for a firearms trafficking operation.

Speaking with CP24, Mendelson said that there is always the possibility that more of the stolen gold might be found “if it hasn’t already been melted down.”

He said that determining where the stolen gold went, essentially who bought it, will be a key part of the investigation moving forward.

“There may be people calling in anonymously, and just saying, ‘Look, I didn't realize that this guy was part of this but having said that, seven months ago, he said to me A, B, and C.’ So there's all kinds of things that will further this investigation as we move down the road,” he said.

“There's a lot of jewelry, a lot of gold that's still out there and that's why this investigation is far from over.”

To watch CP24’s full interview with Mendelson click on the video player above.

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