Maple syrup seized in Quebec theft probe to be released
N.B. exporter says Quebec judge ordered product be returned
A New Brunswick maple syrup exporter is getting some of his product back this week after it was seized by police as part of a high-profile theft investigation.
The Quebec Provincial Police and RCMP raided Étienne St.-Pierre's business, S.K. Export Inc. in Kedgwick, in September. They were looking for $30 million worth of maple syrup stolen from a warehouse northeast of Montreal during the summer.
"They took everything, about 15 trailer loads they took over to Quebec," said St.-Pierre, estimating he lost about $2 million worth of product.
But he says his lawyer has convinced a Quebec judge to release some of the maple syrup, which St.-Pierre will bring back to New Brunswick at his own expense.
"I went to get a lie detector test in Montreal I paid myself for that because my lawyer said, 'If you take a lie detector, you'll be ahead a little bit,' and that's what I did," he said.
May seek compensation
St.-Pierre is now considering seeking compensation from the Sûreté du Québec and the Quebec Federation of Maple Syrup Producers.
He contends the federation is trying to put him out of business because he buys surplus syrup from Quebec producers without going through the organization. He then exports the product to England, Germany and the United States.
The federation represents the province's 7,500 producers and administers a bulk sale system with quotas on individual operations.
Police officials have declined to comment until the investigation is complete.
In October, Quebec provincial police executed a second search warrant in connection with the case. They seized hundreds of barrels of maple syrup from a warehouse in the Saint-Nicolas neighbourhood of Lévis, just south of Quebec City.
It is not clear who was storing the maple syrup. The building's owner had told CBC News the warehouse was leased to maple syrup distributors who owed him money.
In August, thieves stole maple syrup from a warehouse in St-Louis-de-Blandford, about 160 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
The warehouse held about 3.4 million litres of bulk maple syrup, which belonged to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.
The heist was discovered when officials noticed a large number of storage barrels were empty.
If the entire warehouse's contents were stolen, it would represent more than a tenth of Quebec's 2012 harvest. Quebec produces three-quarters of the world's maple syrup.