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Strict bail conditions for alleged drug smuggler

The two West Kelowna men facing charges relating to a cross-border cocaine bust last year lived up to one of the terms of their release Thursday, by not interacting with each other once during a morning appearance before the court.

Barry Michael Ready, 50, and Clifford Montgomery, 33, sat silently in a Kelowna courtroom as Tariq Aslam— the third charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking— received his bail conditions from a prison video link.

Aslam was picked up by U.S. authorities in October, after the fruit grinding machine that concealed a massive quantity of cocaine was uncovered by police. He was granted release on $200,000 bail and a number of conditions.

Upon release, he will be subject to 24 hour house arrest with electronic monitoring. He can only leave to go to and from work, to his lawyer’s offices, the courthouse or to visit the doctor or hospital for an immediate medical emergency and with written permission to do food shopping. He is not to have contact with his co-accused or a number of other people.

He may not have a cell phone, pager or Blackberry, unless it is for work and he has the written permission of his bail supervisor. He can’t leave the province without permission and has been ordered to turn in his passport.

As well, he must report weekly to his bail supervisor while waiting for charges to be dealt with through the courts. In addition to working out Aslam’s release, the trio learned their next step in their court journey will take place Feb. 24, and a date for the trial could tentatively be set four days later on Feb. 28.

The local men were arrested last October after border officials found 97.5 kilograms of cocaine inside a fruit grinder, from Argentina, that was destined for Kelowna.

Mounties made a controlled delivery of the machine to Kelowna and later arrested Ready and Montgomery, charging them with two counts of conspiracy to import cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Aslam, along with one other, was arrested in the United States shortly after police held a press conference announcing the drug seizure. After the arrests, Ready was also charged with importation of cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking in relation to an alleged incident earlier last year.

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