Almost 100 kg of cocaine seized en route to Kelowna
Four men are facing drug charges after 97.5 kilograms of cocaine bound for Kelowna from Argentina was discovered in a fruit-grinding machine near Vancouver.
Canadian border workers uncovered the massive load of cocaine during a Sept. 22 inspection of the 2,300-kilogram machine, shipped from South America via the U.S. When the agents took a closer look, they found the drugs hidden inside secret compartments.
Police believe the machine was put on a plane and flown to Miami, where it was put in a truck and shipped across the U.S. to the Pacific Highway truck crossing into B.C.
Customs officials in Vancouver notified the RCMP about the cocaine found inside, and they followed to truck to a storage yard in Kelowna.
"This investigation translates into more than 97,000 doses of cocaine, or between 3.5 and 3.9 million dollars in drugs, that will never lead to addiction, violent behaviour, heart or lung problems, or an overdose or drug-related death," Supt. Brian Cantera of the RCMP's Federal Drug Enforcement Branch said in a press release.
West Kelowna residents Clifford Roger Montgomery, 33, and Barry Michael Read, 50, were both arrested on Oct. 4 in connection with the cocaine shipment and remain in custody. Arrest warrants have been issued for 32-year-old Tariq Mohammed Aslam of Surrey and Mexican national Victor Perez Rodriguez, 43.
The four men each face two counts of conspiracy to import cocaine and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Police have also searched a home in West Kelowna and a rural property near Merritt in connection with the investigation.
More than 50 Mounties, along with drug enforcement officers in Argentina and Mexico, are working on the investigation, according to police.
Investigators say they have not found any evidence linking this seizure with a bust of $9 million worth of cocaine and suspected methamphetamine bound from Mexico last month.