$1B NYC Drug Ring Had a 'Murder Inc.' Fund

The drug alliance that we reported on between Bonanno associate John "Big Man" Venizelos and Canadian drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer included the use of a $2 million “hit” fund – "so they could quickly hire henchmen to murder snitches, Brooklyn feds said today," an article in today's New York Post reports.

Venizelos used a BlackBerry to send messages to a colleague explaining that Cournoyer had funded the asset pool. (The BlackBerry is the gadget of choice for organized crime members, among other criminals, due to its purportedly unbeatable encryption capability. Message encryption and email privacy have long been key selling features for the BlackBerry service.)

The Bonanno associate, who was one of Cournoyer’s biggest customers in New York City, was arrested again today after using the hit fund to intimidate a witness, officials said in today's Post story.

Venizelos at Brooklyn Federal Court.
The story noted: "Venizelos sent an encrypted message" to a co-conspirator, warning that person "that he/she had better hope that Cournoyer or members of his organization never found out that [the co-conspirator] had spoken with law enforcement agents because Cournoyer has $2 million set aside to pay for the murder of cooperating witnesses," Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Steven Tiscione wrote to a judge.

Cournoyer, who is charged with being one of the biggest suppliers of marijuana to New York City, was done in last year following a five-year probe by the DEA and police from Laval, Quebec, where Cournoyer once lived, according to the first New York Post story, which described the operation as "a rogues’-gallery alliance among the Canadian Mafia, outlaw bikers and a Mexican drug cartel [that] supplied New York City with nearly a billion dollars in marijuana."

Today's Post story indicates the drug ring included other organized crime players, as detailed in several communications that Cournoyer had written which were intercepted by law enforcement. Among the details revealed: "references to 'sit-downs' with 'captains' in various New York organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra - the letters also specifically mention a myriad of violent crimes committed by the author with, or on behalf of Venizelos...including the 'torture' of an individual Venizelos suspected of stealing his drugs." prosecutors wrote.

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