UPDATE: Convictions handed down in Kelowna international drug smuggling bust
UPDATE: Ascencio-Chavez has been sentenced to 13 years in prison. The 47-year-old has been given credit for time served, reducing his sentence by 5 years, 8.5 months.
KELOWNA — Nearly four years after a massive international cocaine smuggling operation was busted in Kelowna, convictions have been handed down. Three men, West Kelowna resident Clifford Roger Montgomery, Surrey man Tariz Mohammed Aslam and Salvador Ascencio-Chavez from Mexico, have been found guilty of possession and intention to traffic nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine smuggled into Kelowna in an industrial fruit grinder. Montgomery and Ascencio-Chavez have also been found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine into Canada.
The grinding machine was shipped from Argentina to Kelowna in September 2010 when it was intercepted by RCMP. The street value of the drugs was estimated $3.5 million dollars.
It’s been a lengthy process leading up to the convictions with the trial starting in March of 2013, two and a half years after the bust. Back in January of that same year, Salvador Ascencio-Chavez’s lawyer argued his charter right to a trial within a reasonable time had been violated, as the time between being charged and the expected end of the trial would be nearly three years. The attempt was unsuccessful.
Crown attempted to revoke Montgomery’s bail, an application the judge denied. Sentencing forAscencio-Chavez takes place Wednesday afternoon. A date will be set to sentence Montgomery and Aslam in September.