Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Major marijuana trafficking kingpin pleads guilty

A French-Canadian drug kingpin who created a rare alliance with some of North America's most notorious criminal organizations pleaded guilty today to charges that he was one of New York City's biggest marijuana suppliers.
Jimmy "Cosmo" Cournoyer, 33, now faces a mandatory 20 years - with sentencing guidelines calling for life in prison - under a plea agreement reached with Brooklyn federal prosecutors.
Cournoyer - a native of Quebec - is something of a prodigy in the world of drug trafficking, who began assembling a drug gang while still a teenager, authorities say - and by his late 20s had constructed an impressive $1 billion organization that spanned national borders.
Jimmy Cournoyer
Amelia Racine, Cournoyer's gal pal. 
His empire included alliances with New York's Bonanno crime family, the Hells Angels, Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, as well as the Mafia's Rizzuto organized crime family and the West End Gang - both feared organizations based in Montreal.
His illicit activities were so lucrative, sources say, that Cournoyer lived a jet-set lifestyle.
He drove an astronomically expensive Bugatti Veyron, partied in Ibiza with an unwitting Leonardo DiCaprio, became a friend and sparring partner of Ultimate Fighting world champion Georges St-Pierre, and secured a supermodel girlfriend, Amelia Racine.
It was a life financed by a clever and circular narcotics trade engineered to meet New Yorkers' craving for high-potency hydroponic marijuana, prosecutors say.
One of Cournoyer's biggest customers in New York was Bonanno crime family associate John "Big Man" Venizelos, who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges earlier this month.
Top-quality pot grown in British Columbia was transported across Canada to Quebec with the assistance of the Hells Angels and the Montreal Mafia, smuggled over the US border, and trucked to New York City, officials say. Then millions from marijuana sales were flown in private jets from New York to California, and then smuggled into Mexico to buy cocaine from the Sinaloa cartel.
Then the coke was transported to Canada where it was resold - with part of the profits underwriting the pot pipeline supplying New York City, according to officials and court documents.
"The illegal narcotics distributed worldwide by members of the criminal enterprise have a retail value of more than $1 billion, conservatively," federal prosecutor Steven Tiscione wrote to a judge.
Tiscione and his colleagues secured convictions against more than 100 people in the Cournoyer and related drug trafficking cases, officials said.
Cournoyer was supposed to stand trial next month in Brooklyn federal court, with several former associates slated to testify against him.
Because he was charged under a "kingpin" statute, Cournoyer faced a mandatory life sentence if he had been convicted at trial.
But at a court hearing late today, Cournoyer huddled at a table with defense attorney Gerald McMahon for 20 minutes before finally deciding to go forward with his plea - and then answered the judge's questions in a low voice tinged with emotion.
His plea agreement delivers a slightly more favorable outcome then a conviction at trial.
Cournoyer admitted to a spectrum of charges, including marijuana trafficking, cocaine trafficking, money laundering and witness tampering - and agreed to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, with federal sentencing guidelines recommending - but not mandating - life imprisonment.
Cournoyer also agreed to a $1 billion money judgment and will forfeit just under $11 million in cash seized during the probe, which was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and police in Laval, Quebec.



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