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Diamond and gemstone smugglers nabbed at Canadian airports

A Toronto gemmologist has been charged with smuggling rough diamonds into Canada.

Police allege the man concealed the diamonds in other items to avoid paying duties and taxes and that he circumvented the Kimberley Process.

RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) arrested the man at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

“The international trade of precious metals and gems is a key component of our economy,” said Sergeant Mia Poscente of the RCMP Toronto Airport Customs and Excise Section. “The illegal movement of these materials also has a humanitarian perspective that forms the basis of the Kimberley Process. Consequently, the federal agencies involved vigorously thwart this illicit activity to ensure we can maintain the integrity of our economy.”

Donald MacKay, 58, is charged with smuggling contrary to the Customs Act and importing rough diamonds without the proper certificate contrary to the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act (EIRDA).

The arrest comes a week after border security officers at Edmonton International Airport seized 180 carats of rough diamonds, 43 grams of raw gold, and several hundred carats of rough gemstones from a man believed to be travelling from central Africa.

Police described the items’ value as significant and allege the man was carrying the stones in his clothes.

Investigators believe the stash may have been used to carry out criminal activity overseas and brought to Canada to be laundered into the legitimate jewellery business.

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