Ottawa

Accused drug ringleader found not guilty of all but one charge

A man accused of being the ringleader of a drug network connected to the Hells Angels was found not guilty Thursday of all but one of eight charges relating to drug trafficking.

A man accused of being the ringleader of a drug network connected to the Hells Angels was found not guilty Thursday of all but one of eight charges relating to drug trafficking.

Michael Clairoux was found guilty of one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, but was found not guilty on a number of more serious drug trafficking and criminal organization charges—including three charges related to organizing others as part of a drug ring.

He was released on bail after spending 17 months in jail. 
Police seized drugs, weapons and vehicles in Sept. 2011 after a year-long operation. (CBC)

Clairoux was one of a dozen men arrested in Sept. 2011 after a year-long police undercover operation called Project Finale.

Police seized $172,000 worth of marijuana and cocaine as well as a number of guns.

Several others arrested had already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced, but Clairoux pleaded not guilty and the case went to trial.

Ontario Justice Jacqueline Loignon dismissed much of Clairoux's testimony as "contrived" and unbelievable, but said most of the evidence against him was circumstantial. She said she could not find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all but the possession charge.

Clairoux is expected to return to court for sentencing on Feb. 27. His lawyer said he will ask the court for a sentence of time served.