$18M Quebec maple syrup heist leads to arrests

An investigation into a massive maple syrup theft from a Quebec warehouse last summer has led to the arrest of three people, who are due to face charges in court today.

Between August 2011 and July 2012, thieves got away with 9,600 barrels of maple syrup worth approximately $18 million from a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, about 95 kilometres southwest of Quebec City.

Richard Vallières, 34, of Loretteville and Avik Caron, 39, of Saint-Wenceslas, along with a third person arrested without a warrant face charges of theft, conspiracy, handling stolen goods and fraud.

Authorities said they are still looking for five other people in connection with the theft.

Last summer, it was believed about $30 million worth of syrup was stolen. Simon Tépanier, interim director of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, said they noticed fewer barrels missing after verification.

Police said they interrogated more than 300 people during their investigation and carried out search warrants in Quebec, New Brunswick, and the United States.

In October, authorities seized approximately 1,000 barrels of maple syrup from S.K. Export Inc in Kedgwick, N.B.

Étienne St-Pierre, the owner of the export business, said the syrup came from his regular providers in Quebec and not from the warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford.

At the time, the business's general manager, Julienne Bossé-Desrosiers, told Radio-Canada she had documents to prove the company bought its syrup directly from producers.

Officials say they were able to retrieve two-thirds of the stolen syrup.

The warehouse stored about 3.4 million litres of bulk maple syrup, which belonged to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.

The federation represents the province's 7,500 producers and administers a bulk sale system with quotas on individual operations.

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