International Law

3 Arrested re 'Maple Syrup Gang' Accused of Stealing 6M Gallons From OPEC-Like Canadian Cartel

In an $18 million international theft case that a representative of the victims compares to stealing oil reserves from OPEC, authorities say they have brought at least some members of the “maple syrup gang” to justice.

Three men were arrested Tuesday and five others are being sought in what is being described as a well-thought-out theft by insiders of six million pounds of maple syrup being held by a Canadian producers cartel in a warehouse near Quebec City, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

Following a banner year in 2011 for production of maple syrup, which is made from the sap of maple trees, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers rented additional warehouse space. The oversupply, stored in 55-gallon drums, was being held to prevent a price decline likely to occur if maple syrup suddently drowned the market. But enterprising thieves reportedly rented adjoining warehouse space, which gave them a good reason to come and go with large trucks.

Police Lt. Guy Lapointe of the Sûreté du Québec said the thieves set up a seemingly legitimate business in New Brunswick, which allowed them to charge unsuspecting buyers a market price for the stolen goods.

“It’s like OPEC,” explained Simon Trépanier, who acts as general manager of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, to the newspaper. “We’re not producing all the maple syrup in the world. But by producing 70 to 78 percent, we have the ability to adjust the quantity that is in the marketplace.”

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