Three men who were convicted of charges related to a high stakes 2010 scheme to ship a large quantity of cocaine into Kelowna through a fruit grinding machine have failed in their attempt to appeal the verdict.
West Kelowna’s Clifford Roger Montgomery, Surrey’s Tariq Mohammed Aslam and Mexican national Salvador Ascencio-Chavez will have to continue serving the sentences they were handed in 2014 when, after a 70 day trial, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found them guilty possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. Ascencio and Montgomery were also convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine.
They had tried to have those convictions overturned through a significant number of complaints, including the validity of the wiretap, the validity of the search warrant and whether the search warrant was executed in a reasonable manner. They contested the use of data recovered from a BlackBerry and said that failure to bring Montgomery before a justice of the peace within 24 hours of his arrest was in contravention of the Criminal Code. They also argued that the conspiracy to import conviction was unreasonable.
Despite a list of 13 arguments, with connected sub-arguments, dealing with what made it to court and how it got there, Justice David Frankel dismissed the appeal, finding that Justice Alison Beames was reasonable in her conclusions.
On the argument against the conviction itself, he found her decision to be particularly reasonable.
“A substantial body of evidence supports the inferences drawn by the trial judge that Mr. Ascencio and Mr. Montgomery were parties to an agreement to import the cocaine hidden in the fruit-grinding machine into Canada,” wrote Frankel. “Accordingly, their convictions cannot be said to be unreasonable.”
The three were arrested after Kelowna-bound cocaine being imported to Canada from Argentina, was seized by Canada Border Services Agency officers at Vancouver International Airport’s Air Cargo Operation, launching an elaborate RCMP investigation.
Salvador Ascencio-Chavez, 47, a Mexican national, was sentenced to 13 years. Clifford Roger Montgomery, 37, was sentenced to 14 years, and Tariq Aslam, 36, was sentenced to seven year