Charges stayed for one man in Kelowna drug smuggling case

Police alleged cocaine smuggled into Canada in fruit grinding machine.

One of the men arrested after police intercepted a fruit grinder filled with cocaine last fall has had his charges stayed.

Barry Michael Ready, a 50-year-old West Kelowna man, was charged alongside three other men with two charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and one count of possession for the purpose of traffficking.

Those charges were dropped following a court appearance earlier this month, court records show. Charges are typically stayed at this stage in court proceedings if the Crown feels there is insufficient evidence to prove the charge.

Clifford Montgomery, 33, and Tariq Aslam. 32, are scheduled to return to court Thursday on their charges, while the fourth man, Victor Rodriguez, is still in the process of being extradited back to Canada.

Police say that on Sept. 22, border officials inspected a fruit grinding machine that originated from Argentina and some 97.5 kilograms of cocaine were located inside.

Police executed a “controlled delivery” of the machine, which was brought to an outdoor storage facility in Kelowna, and said there was later evidence that the machine had been breached.

Ready and Montgomery were later arrested in the Okanagan, while Aslam and Verma were arrested in California.