Up north, tucked away in French Canada, exists gold in them trees—sweet, sticky gold!
Five years ago, thieves in Quebec tried to get their hands on that gold and, well, they actually pulled it off, at least for a little while. But now, Avik Caron, one of the men found guilty in the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, has just been sentenced to five years.
Now, how did Caron get himself into such delicious trouble?
After the province's Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup rented a warehouse co-owned by his wife to store their auburn gold, Caron seized the sweet opportunity life had given him. The 43-year-old, who the court said was the instigator of the heist, organized a group of people to steal 9,571 barrels, each worth around $2,000 (13 times the price of crude oil!), with tractor trailers, bring them to a sugar shack, steal the all-valuable syrup, and fill the barrels back up with water.
For their troubles, the maple syrup thieves netted around $18.7 million of the sweet stuff—much of which was never recovered. The crew was crafty and only stole from the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup's global reserve so, at first, their plan went unnoticed. A year later though, the Maple Syrup Fed's noticed that some of their barrels were rusting, which raised suspicion.
For some, the theft was seen as a fuck you to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup who are disparagingly referred to at times as the "Maple Syrup Cartel." The organization is, essentially, a state sanctioned monopoly after all. The Federation has drawn the ire of many a Quebec maple syrup producer by fixing prices, forcing quotas, and stockpiling the rest in their reserve (much like OPEC.) One of the other heist masters reportedly wrote a letter, which was presented at trial, in which he called the Federation "A BUNCH OF A**HOLES, PART OF THE MAFIA."
Quebec police got involved and were able to work out what transpired. In the end, the investigation led to more than 200 witness interviews and 26 arrests. Crown Prosecutor Julien Beauchamp-Laliberté, speaking with the National Post at the time of Caron's guilty plea, praised the investigative work.
"It's no less serious because it's not cocaine or gold bricks," he told the National Post. "It's an economic crime and it affects people who work in the woods and literally give the sweat from their brow."
Quebec is Perfect: Maple Syrup Is Our Drug
Caron reportedly said that he was coerced into putting in his legal plea and tried to get out of it. When the judge didn't let it happen, he apparently threw a tantrum in court, swearing at the judge and getting into it with a guard who tried to restrain him.
Other people behind the heist have been found guilty and sentenced including Richard Vallières, another ringleader, and Étienne St-Pierre, a man who bought the stolen syrup and fraudulently sold it as New Brunswick syrup.
In addition to the five years, Caron was also fined $1.2 million, which, when converted to maple syrup, is around 600 barrels.
We're still waiting for the Jason Segel movie about the heist, however. Even Canadian justice runs quicker than Hollywood.
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