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Alleged Canadian Syrup Siphonists Seized

What motivated a mass maple syrup swipe in Quebec?

by Daniel Stuckey
Dec 19 2012, 10:05pm

About a year and a half after the great multi-million-dollar syrup siphon began, Canadian officials have finally arrested three men alleged to be involved in what had to be one of the nation's biggest condiment heists to date. Sometime between August 1st, 2011 and July 30th, 2012, 16,000 barrels of that sticky icky goodness had gone missing from a reserve in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. A multi-jurisdictional search for the condiment culprits yielded three suspects. Those in custody appeared in court Tuesday afternoon.

Two of the three men accused have been identified as Richard Vallières, 34, and Avik Caron, 39. And while the hunt continues for five other people supposedly involved, Vallières and Caron have already been charged with theft of 2.7 million kgs (or $18 million of syrup). RT reports that Caron had previously been a financial advisor.

Nary an article could resist an unhappy pancake joke at the sight of newswires reporting the missing syrup earlier this year, but many now rejoice as 70% ($22 million) of the product has been recovered along with a couple of vehicles used to move the product around.

As fake French champagne has previously been imported for trafficking in Europe, and just a few days ago, an unpopular decision was made to drop the prosecutions on the Operation Lucerna case (a massive Spanish based multi-national olive oil fraud), I keep asking myself, what's with the food crimes? Why do people go to such extremes to fuck up the authenticity of condiments?

"Baby formula, Scotch whisky, vodka, and premium teas are among the easiest to fake," writes Molly McCluskey for Daily Finance, noting that olive oil makes up 16 percent of cases in the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention's Food Fraud Database, followed by adulterated milk at 14 percent, honey at 7 percent, orange juice at 4 percent and apple juice at 2 percent. The counterfeiting of liquid products is much easier to pull off than brand-imprinted candy bars and food products. McCluskey adds that frozen foods are basically out of the question when it comes to transportation and storage logistics; such sophistication in a mass counterfeiting operation would squander from the criminal's bottom line.

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But while some of these more highly protected national and regional treasures can be a lucrative scam, I'll be damned if I believe that the opportunity costs, the man power and the profit margins outweigh good ol' homestyle drug dealin'.

Perhaps slinging syrup felt like a safer and saner enterprise for these guys. Perhaps it would have been an easier one-time score if they had been pulled off without a flaw. Swiping syrup is a less-threatening scheme than an arduous sidestepping of some manic drug cartels (no one is going to kill you over a bottle of that brown). I just can't wait to see what these dudes have to say for themselves.

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