Credits: CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI AGENCY
Pearson security officials are already on heightened alert for possible Islamic extremists who may be travelling to the US to incite violence following the showing of a movie that portrays the Prophet Muhammad in a negative light.
The 175 officers from 75 forces across Canada, the U.S., Israel, Aruba and Colombia are attending the first International Airport Investigators' Training Symposium, which was organized by Peel Regional Police, and runs until Thursday at an airport-area hotel.
Speakers include US Police Chief Edward Glomb who probed the "Underwear Bomber" case and El Al Israel Airlines security head Yoav Lorbert. He investigated a 2002 attack at Los Angeles Airport that left two people dead and three wounded before the gunman was killed.
"More than 10,000 athletes and team officials will be descending on the GTA for the (Pan Am) Games," Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, told officers on Tuesday. "Most of them will be arriving through Pearson airport."
Some 250,000 tourists are also expected to attend the sporting spectacle, officials said.
Meilleur said the symposium is timely and comes as her government commits resources to fight human trafficking.
"Criminals use our airports to move guns, drugs and human beings across the country," she said.
Det. Malcolm Bow, who recently retired from the Airport Division of Peel Police, said thefts and smuggling by corrupt Pearson workers occur on a daily basis.
"Thefts at the airport are prevalent and a lot of them are internal," Bow said, adding goods are routinely stolen from baggage by organized rings. "These thefts are among the most unreported crimes at the airport."
A Senate National Security Committee found that nearly all major crime groups have a representative at Pearson.
Matthew Stentz, of US Homeland Security in Ottawa, said the symposium helps foster cross-border communication and collaboration between agencies.