Over a dozen suspects arrested during massive police sweep in N.B., Que.
Published Thursday, March 9, 2017 8:13PM AST
Millions of dollars worth of stolen goods were recovered in a massive police sweep in New Brunswick and Quebec.
Sûreté du Québec– Quebec’s provincial police – and New Brunswick RCMP carried out Operation Oblige on Wednesday, arresting 14 suspects between the ages of 20 and 56.
Police are still looking for three suspects, including 53-year-old Ralph LeBlanc of Memramcook, N.B.
The thieves targeted trailers, swiping everything from luxury vehicles to food, lumber and machinery.
The total value of the stolen goods was $5.3 million.
Three of the heists took place in New Brunswick. Chicken was stolen in Saint Francois-de-Madawaska, lobster in Caraquet, and diapers in Moncton.
“We think about the diapers, they were sold on the web,” said Sûreté du Québec Lt. Martine Asselin. “Things like Kijiji. As we talked about the lobster, we can see through the investigation it was sold around Montreal.”
More than 100 officers from both police forces were involved in the raids. They were able to recover almost $3.2 million worth of the stolen cargo.
Jean-Marc Picard of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association says these heists are really a drop in the bucket. He says in Canada, cargo theft is a $5 billion-industry.
“In the last five years we've seen an increase in thefts in New Brunswick specifically,” said Picard.
Picard says once the items are stolen, the criminals have a narrow window to get rid of the goods.
The black market is a common route.
“They have a huge network and it could range from restaurant owners, to distribution centres, to butcher shops,” he said.
Some of those arrested appeared in Quebec court on Thursday.
Police are reminding the public to report any unusual activity near truck stops or distribution centres.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.