The investigation into a multimillion dollar maple heist has moved south of the Canadian border and into Vermont. We're learning that a Northeast Kingdom maple company is now part of that investigation into stolen syrup.
Not much is being released about the international investigation. We do know that search warrants were reportedly served at Maple Grove Farms in St. Johnsbury in the fall because authorities in Canada say Maple Grove took advantage of a golden deal.
The investigation into the Great Maple Syrup Caper began in July 2012, when it was discovered $20 million worth of the liquid gold was missing from a warehouse just north of Montreal. According to Canadian authorities, the syrup was siphoned from barrels inside the warehouse between August 2011 and July 2012. According to police, some of the barrels were empty; others were filled with water to cover up the crime. It had an impact on the global supply of syrup. Investigators arrested 18 people following hundreds of interviews at maple syrup production facilities in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Vermont.
Now, the Montreal Gazette is reporting Canadian and Vermont authorities executed a search warrant at Maple Grove Farms in St. Johnsbury back in October after a company official admitted to purchasing 12 tanker loads of maple syrup at a price "substantially below normal rates" from one of the defendants in the case. The factory on Portland Street produces a wide variety of maple products, including syrup, pancake mixes, dressings and candy.
Attempts to obtain the search warrants were unsuccessful because they are not public. U.S. Attorney Tris Coffin told WCAX News he could not comment.
Maple Grove Farms released this statement:
"It has been reported that Maple Grove Farms purchased maple syrup from Mr. Richard Vallieres that allegedly has been stolen from the Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers. Maple Grove Farms is committed to providing quality products and observing high ethical standards in the conduct of our business. Maple Grove Farms purchased the maple syrup in good faith with no reason to believe that it was coming from Québec or that it may have been stolen. Press reports that the prices paid for the maple syrup were "substantially below normal rates" are inaccurate. The prices paid were consistent with normal commercial prices for maple syrup purchased from sources outside of Québec. Maple Grove Farms is fully cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the authorities, including the Québec Police."
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