Former Montreal Alouettes' staffer Mark Clermont sentenced to life in prison in Australia on drug trafficking charges

The road roller Australian police say former Alouettes' staffer Mark Clermont used to import drugs.
The road roller Australian police say former Alouettes' staffer Mark Clermont used to import drugs.

From working with the Montreal Alouettes to receiving a life sentence in Australia this week for a road roller-based scheme to import cocaine and methamphetamine, it's been a weird five years for Mark Clermont. Clermont was a part-time member of the Alouettes' strength and conditioning staff from 2007 to 2009 while also working at a Montreal health club and helping to train NHL players like Pascal Leclaire, but soon after the Alouettes  won the 2009 Grey Cup, he left for Australia to set up a machinery import business. That business, which prosecutors say was just a front for drug smuggling, was what eventually led to his arrest and charges after police seized 85.5 kilograms of pure cocaine and 192.9 kilograms of pure methylamphetamine, with a street value estimated at $255 million Canadian. From Tu Thanh Ha and Sean Gordon in The Globe and Mail, here's what happened in Australia:

According to the court decision, Mr. Clermont and [co-accused Canadian Mathieu Horobjowsky, who received a 20-year sentence] arrived in Sydney on April 23, 2010, on short-term tourist visas.They registered a company, Clermont & Horobjowsky Pty. Ltd., to import floorboards, tractors and forklifts.

Authorities said it was a front while they set the stage for a smuggling operation bankrolled by a kingpin in Canada known as “Big D.”

The judgment said “Clermont was a key organizer of the importation and his role was critical.”...

The Australian Federal Police said the operation that led to the arrests of the Canadians, codenamed Pendine, began in 2010 as an investigation into money laundering.

By the fall of 2012, police and customs agents were tracking a suspicious container shipment of heavy machinery from China, which included a 20-tonne road roller, the type used to compact gravel and asphalt.

Cocaine and meth were concealed in the machine’s front roller under a lead lining to thwart X-ray scans by Australian customs, Judge Garling’s ruling said.

“It was a very clever concealment,” the judge said in his decision.

By the time police raided a warehouse where the road roller had been stowed, the drug had been transferred to bags.

In November, 2012, Mr. Clermont was arrested in Avalon, a suburb north of Sydney, and charged with trafficking.

He has remained behind bars ever since.

This is far from the first time a CFL figure (or former CFL figure in this case) has run into trouble in a drug investigation; see Yonus Davis and Jordan Matechuk in particular. However, it's the largest-scale one; even Davis' "40 boats" of ecstasy pale before this in both weight and street value, clocking in at just 67 pounds and an estimated $400,000. This shouldn't necessarily reflect poorly on the CFL; this happened after Clermont left the Alouettes, and there haven't yet been any suggestions he was involved in anything improper while with them. Still, "85.5 kilograms of pure cocaine and 192.9 kilograms of pure methylamphetamine" is probably something the CFL and the Alouettes aren't thrilled about being mentioned in connection with. 

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