August 07, 2014 - 9:20 AM
KELOWNA – One of three men found guilty of helping to bring close to 100 kilograms of cocaine into B.C. from South America was sentenced in Kelowna Supreme Court Wednesday.
Mexican national Salvador Ascencio-Chavez, 47, was sentenced to 13 years in jail Wednesday for his role in importing 97 kg of cocaine into Kelowna in 2010.
The men were caught after Border Service agents detected the presence of cocaine inside the drums of a one ton piece of equipment from Argentina that had been modified to hide the drugs. Police replaced the cocaine with a placebo and included a traceable dye and recording equipment before following the grinder first to Kelowna, then to a ranch near Merritt.
Chavez, who is married to a Canadian woman and has a young son, was arrested in California and extradited to B.C. where he has been in pretrial custody ever since.
He was given credit for the more than 1,300 days spent in custody both in B.C. and the U.S.
Justice Alison Beames said Chavez clearly regrets his part in smuggling the “massive amount” of cocaine into the province but said the sentence of eight to 12 years sought by his lawyer was insufficient given his criminal history and the value of the shipment, estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
Chavez, who served three years in prison in 2001 for importing 2.2 kilograms of cocaine into Canada, is a trained architect and has a Canadian wife and son. Justice Beames says there is no evidence he is a lifetime criminal.
Chavez’ role was not as a kingpin, she said, as recordings of him taking orders clearly show.
“His role was also not that of simply a transporter either,” she said.
Clifford Roger Montgomery of Kelowna and Tariq Mohammed Aslam of Surrey were also found guilty of possession for the purpose of trafficking and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, although Aslam was found not guilty of smuggling since his only role was in taking apart the grinder once in Canada.
The two Canadian men are set to be sentenced in Kelowna August 26.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014