Wednesday 25 March 2015

Still another excuse - Maple Syrup stolen!

I am deeply indebted to Claudia for raising bail in Germany for my release here in Ontario.
If there are problems, please write and I'll do my best to explain.

Wenn es Schwierigkeiten mit deinem - oder auch meinem Verständnis gibt, bitte schreib mir und
ich versuche es zu erklaren. Ich werde kurze Wörter benutzen!

In $18 Million Theft, Victim Was a Canadian Maple Syrup Cartel
The police in Quebec arrested three men in connection with the theft of
six million pounds of syrup from Canada's
global strategic maple syrup reserve.

Bill:  I told you it cost more than gasoline! I didn't know we had a 90-day reserve.
-and of course, since I returned, this has been put under stress. Even my dentist,
I think he owns shares in the reserves warehouse, has questioned me. My "hearing"
is  sccheduled for Fri Jan 4.

 OTTAWA — It was an inside job of sorts. Thieves with access to a warehouse and a
careful plan loaded up trucks and, over time, made off with $18 million of a valuable

Francis Vachon for the Globe and Mail.

Drums of maple syrup in the global strategic reserve in Quebec.

The question is what was more unusual: that the commodity in question was maple syrup,
or that it came from something called the global strategic maple syrup reserve, run
by what amounts to a Canadian cartel.

On Tuesday, the police in Quebec arrested three men in connection with the theft from
the warehouse, which is southwest of Quebec City. The authorities are searching for
five others suspected of being involved, and law enforcement agencies in other parts
of Canada and the United States are trying to recover some of the stolen syrup.

Both the size and the international scope of the theft underscore Quebec’s outsize
position in the maple syrup industry.

Depending on the year, the province can produce more than three-quarters of the
world’s supply. And its marketing organization appears to have taken some tips from
the producers of another valuable liquid commodity when it comes to exploiting market

“It’s like OPEC,” said Simon Trépanier, acting general manager of the Federation of
Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “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.”

Since 1999, Quebec’s maple syrup industry has used a marketing system found in other
Canadian agricultural sectors, particularly dairy and poultry.

Put simply, the supply management system sets strict quotas for producers and, in the
case of maple syrup, requires them to sell their product through the federation.

The sap that becomes maple syrup after being boiled down often flows for only a short
period each spring. Weather changes can introduce wild fluctuations in how much emerges
from sugar maple trees.

To maintain stable and high prices, the federation stockpiles every drop its members
produce beyond their quota. During bad seasons, it dips into that supply.

“In the States you have the strategic oil reserve,” Mr. Trépanier said, continuing
his petroleum analogy. “Mother Nature is not generous every year, so we have our own
global strategic reserve.”

Mr. Trépanier estimates that the reserve now holds 46 million pounds of syrup.

The spring of 2011 produced so much maple syrup that the federation added a third rented
warehouse, in an industrial park alongside a busy highway in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford,
to accommodate the overflow. The surplus was pasteurized and packed into 16,000 drums,
each holding 54 gallons, and left to rest except for inspections twice a year.

Lt. Guy Lapointe of the Sûreté du Québec, the police force that led the investigation,
said that the thieves rented another portion of the warehouse for an unrelated business.
That enabled them to drive large trucks into the building.

“They were basically inside guys,” Lieutenant Lapointe said. “The leader wasn’t with the
federation, but he had access to the warehouse that would not attract any suspicion.”

When no one else was around, Lieutenant Lapointe said, the thieves gradually began
emptying syrup barrels. Some Quebec news reports indicated that they also filled some
barrels with water to disguise the theft.

Over time, the thieves helped themselves to six million pounds of syrup. Mr. Trépanier

The police spared no resources. Lieutenant Lapointe said that about 300 people were

Like many thieves, the maple syrup gang was faced with how to unload a large quantity of
a commodity that is not easily moved. But unlike most thieves, Lieutenant Lapointe said,
they found a way to get full price on the open market.

 Because the investigation is continuing, Lieutenant Lapointe declined to describe the
resale process in detail. But he did say that the thieves set themselves up as legitimate
maple syrup dealers in neighboring New Brunswick, a province with an open, if much smaller,
maple syrup industry. From there, they shipped the stolen syrup to buyers in that province
as well as in Ontario, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Whatever the arrangement, it was convincing. Lieutenant Lapointe said investigators
believed that the buyers were unaware of the syrup’s illicit origins.

The police have tracked down about two-thirds of the stolen syrup and are trying to seize
it, particularly a large quantity in the United States, which is the largest buyer of
Quebec’s legitimate production. Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, said the agency was investigating what happened to the syrup after it
slipped across the border.

It may be difficult to prove that syrup is stolen property, however.

“Maple syrup doesn’t have a bar code,” Lieutenant Lapointe said. “There’s no way to tell
it apart.”

Although the stolen syrup was insured, Mr. Trépanier acknowledged that some of the
federation’s 7,400 members were not happy that it allowed six million pounds of syrup to

Despite the displeasure of members, though, Pascal Thériault, professor of agriculture at
McGill University in Montreal, said the future of the federation was secure. While the
closed market system restricts the ability of large, commercial syrup producers to expand,
the federation’s voting structure means that it is dominated by part-time producers, many
of whom are also dairy farmers. They have no interest, Mr. Thériault said, in returning
to an open market.

Canada’s supply management systems for other agricultural products, like dairy and poultry,
have been protested unsuccessfully for decades by the United States and other countries
in trade negotiations.

While the latest theft was a record breaker, it was not the first significant maple syrup
theft in the province. In 2006, thieves took about $1.3 million from a stockpile that was
the subject of an ownership dispute. Lieutenant Lapointe said that investigation remained

Ring Leader suspected to be a recent immigrant to Ontario, with links to EURO ring among
others. He may have been plotting a return of Ontario supremacy in the maple syrup
industry - or - maybe - to return more maple syrup to his friends in Europe. He
sometimes answers to Saint Nicholaus but that is probably an alias since his feet are
cloven! Police have released some photos of the suspect. He is armed but since his arms
seem to always be hugging maple syrup canisters he may be more sticky than dangerous.

As a Post Script to my "hearing" , I now have hearing aids and I am in the custody of Shaw's Sugar Bush where I work for bottles of "Medium" - wob

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