"To the delight of headline writers everywhere," said The Economist last week, "it appeared a maple-syrup mob was involved" in the theft of six million pounds of the stuff from the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve last fall. On Tuesday the Canadians gave us one more free taste by announcing that they had, after a year-long manhunt, arrested the last suspected member of the Maple Syrup Gang.
A total of 23 people have now been arrested in connection with the theft, which apparently took place incrementally over the course of a full year. According to the most recent report, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (which the report describes as "the OPEC of the maple syrup world") keeps about 40 million pounds in the GSMSR, which it uses to stabilize prices. The thieves are said to have gotten away with about 15 percent of that, something like 9,600 barrels at 620 pounds per barrel, and worth about C$18 million.
Two-thirds of the stolen syrup has been recovered, some of it from syrup dealers in other provinces (the GSMSR is in Quebec) and in the United States. None of them knew anything about the heist, of course. The Economist did take the opportunity, though, to note that some merchants are not happy with the Federation's nearly complete syrup monopoly, implying that some of them might not have asked too many questions when a door-to-door syrup merchant showed up with a tanker truck. See also "The Maple Syrup Cartel: Quebec's syrup monopoly helped spawn smuggling, prohibition style," National Post (Feb. 16, 2013).
Reat the whole thing at Lowering the Bar, which has links to background stories.