Jimmy Cosmo Gets Ready to Pay the Piper

Back in mid-January of last year we reported about an alliance among the Canadian and American Mafia, outlaw bikers and a Mexican drug cartel that supplied New York City with nearly a billion dollars in marijuana.

Running the group was French Canadian drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer, who was busted following a five-year probe by the DEA and police from Laval, Quebec, where Cournoyer once lived.

The drug alliance included a partnership between Bonanno associate John "Big Man" Venizelos and Jimmy “Cosmo” to form a $2 million “hit” fund so the group could quickly hire hitters to murder snitches.

Jimmy Cosmo faces sentencing in New York next month on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and other crimes.

Here is an interesting profile of a career criminal....

Toronto Star: "Who can say for certain what triggers a person to choose a life of crime? In some the seed may be poverty; in others, psychological distress. For others still, a taste of the good life — carefree wealth and influence — is the high that feeds an addiction to breaking laws,

In the case of Jimmy Cournoyer, the 34-year-old Montreal man nicknamed the King of Pot, it may have been all of these things and more.

Ahead of his sentencing hearing in New York State next month on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and others, Cournoyer is arguing that the seminal event in his 14-year crime spree was the day that his father walked out of the family home when he was just 16 years old.

Two years later, his journey through the criminal underworld began: from small-time marijuana grower to cross-border pot trafficker to a gun-toting ecstasy dealer to the head of a sophisticated and violent criminal group that exported marijuana, imported cocaine and had the Hells Angels and Montreal mafia on speed dial for money and muscle, according to a pre-sentencing report by U.S. prosecutors who are seeking a 30-year sentence in Cournoyer’s drug trafficking case."

At his peak, the boy from the suburbs of Laval counted Ultimate Fighting champ Georges St-Pierre and Leonardo Di Caprio as his friends. He had a Brazilian-born model for his girlfriend and travelled in luxury vehicles.

But he never hesitated to loosen his purse strings when it came to helping those most in need.

And before the empire had taken shape, when he was first busted by Laval police in August 1998 with 11 marijuana plants and four bags of ready-to-sell weed at a modest apartment he shared with a girlfriend and brother Joey, the person in his life who was most in need was his mother, Linda Bremner.

When father Richard Cournoyer departed the family home in 1996, he left three letters for his wife and two boys. His written words did little to prevent their emotional implosion.

Jimmy Cournoyer had been a successful athlete. He was a black belt in karate by the age of 10 and a dedicated hockey player. In school, he was regularly crowned athlete of the year. But his father’s construction business had hit hard times and his mother lost her dry cleaning business.

“By the time Jimmy was 16 years old, I was on welfare and struggling,” Bremner wrote in a letter to the court, pleading for leniency in her son’s impending sentence.

Bremner and the boys took shelter in her brother’s apartment, but left after he committed suicide. Bremner fell into a depression and also attempted — two or three times — to take her own life following the breakup of her marriage. The strain started to show in Cournoyer, then 17.

“That’s when I started to see a change in my son. He wasn’t focused anymore. He was kind of a rebel. I thought it was because of the divorce,” Bremner wrote in her letter to the court.

Officially, Cournoyer dropped out of school and embarked on a series of low wage jobs. He also paid for this older brother to attend school and provided him with rent-free accommodation, Joey Cournoyer wrote in his letter to the court.

“He was that father figure. He took all of the responsibility on his shoulders. Since my dad left, he felt he had to take care of us.”

In reality, Cournoyer had started selling marijuana.

Cournoyer’s brother Joey, who is named in court documents as playing a role in the drug operation but who was not charged, said they were young and selling marijuana was seen as a harmless way to make a few dollars.

While his criminal spree may have begun “as a rebellious streak,” it should be no cause for leniency in the present case, which led to more than a billion dollars in drug sales, said Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a letter to the judge.

That initial arrest in Cournoyer’s first-floor Laval apartment, to which he pleaded guilty and received a fine and probation, did little to slow him down.

In Dec. 14, 2000, he was busted again, this time selling marijuana to a convicted drug trafficker, at the Kanesatake Mohawk reserve near Oka, Que. He was arrested along with two others.

The men were driving a 1995 Jeep Cherokee when the native police force swept in, according to a police report. Officers found $50,000 cash in $100 and $20 bills hidden under the back seat as well as Loblaws bags, duffel bags and cardboard boxes stuffed with marijuana in Ziplock bags.

That bust, to which he pled guilty and received another fine, did not appear to deter him. Not one year later, on Dec. 2, 2001, Cournoyer and an accomplice checked into a Toronto hotel with 10,000 ecstasy pills, a semi-automatic pistol and a meeting with individuals who had agreed to pay $65,000 for Cournoyer’s drugs and ferry them to distributors in Miami.

In reality, they had wandered into the crosshairs of an eight-month Peel police probe. Police had traced the supply line for the pills back to Quebec, where investigators found that the boy from Laval had diversified his business and was now in control of machines capable of manufacturing “tens of thousands of MDMA pills,” according to U.S. prosecutors.

Cournoyer was arrested and charged, but avoided extradition to Florida and later had his case transferred back to Montreal where he made bail. While fighting the charges, to which he would eventually plead guilty in 2005, he set out to correct the errors that resulted in him getting caught three times in four years.

His plan involved building a criminal network of individuals who would transport, receive and store the drugs and sell them for massive profits, all while keeping himself at a physical distance.

Among the recruits were Mario Racine, the brother of Cournoyer’s one-time girlfriend, model Amelia Racine, and Patrick Paisse, who served as the towering, tattooed “front man” of the organization, according to prosecutors. On Cournoyer’s behalf, Paisse brokered deals with the Hells Angels and native smugglers for pot to be trafficked into the U.S.

But Paisse set up one deal with a Brooklyn distributor that would push Cournoyer’s operation to near ruin, first when the distributor refused to pay for a shipment of marijuana worth an estimated $1.2-million, then when he stole the drugs outright. The theft left Paisse fending off angry Hells Angels debt collectors.

Another run in with the law, this time deadly, would leave Cournoyer powerless to make up the shortfall, powerless to bail out his business.

It was Nov. 15, 2004 and Cournoyer was zipping through the winding roads of the picturesque Laurentian cottage country. In the passenger seat of the brand new Porshe Cayenne was 24-year-old Simon Bibeau, a friend. They were driving at 140-km/h when Cournoyer lost control of the car and crashed, killing Bibeau.

He pled guilty to dangerous driving causing death, but a charge of impaired driving was dropped. The sentence, handed down in 2006, was 36 months in jail. It was added to the 46-month sentence he started serving in 2005 for the ecstasy trafficking and weapons charges laid by Peel police in 2001.

In jail, he completed his high school education, but when he was released into a halfway house in February 2007, Cournoyer went back to rebuilding his enterprise.

Prosecutors say he began using encrypted BlackBerry devices to communicate with Racine, Paisse and other associates. Eventually, he arranged a phoney job that would serve as his cover, allowing him to concentrate on the drug business by day and check in with unsuspecting authorities at the halfway house each night over the course of six months.

As Cournoyer saw his drug business grow, his lifestyle became increasingly flashy.

A friend named Riccardo Morroni ran a vehicle leasing business, which gave him access to luxury vehicles. Cournoyer was said to own a sleek Bugatti Veyron, a $1.3-million car, but preferred his model girlfriend’s Porshe Cayenne to avoid attracting too much attention.

In 2009, he struck up a fast friendship with Ultimate Fighting champion Georges St-Pierre.

“He became instantly my friend,” St-Pierre said in a letter to the court. “Jimmy became like a brother to me. We travelled together, trained together, we were going to restaurants, clubs and having a lot of fun.”

The fun included a 2009 trip to the Spanish island of Ibiza, where Cournoyer and his circle of friends, including the unwitting Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, celebrated the young drug boss’s 30th birthday.

But a tragic accident, which brought the party to a screeching halt, also showed Cournoyer’s generosity. Two days into the trip one of those in the entourage, Daniel Noncent, was injured and paralyzed in an accident. Cournoyer only knew Nocent casually, but paid for his care in a private medical clinic and then arranged for his return to Canada aboard a medical charter, a gesture that prompted Noncent to write to the court for leniency.

“Even though Jimmy chose to live his life as a freelancer and that his decisions led him to where he is today, it’s clear to me he . . . had the good of his family and friends at heart,” Nocent wrote.

In her submission to the sentencing judge, Melissa Walker, a former girlfriend who spent three years with Cournoyer, says her impression stands: “I did not see a bad bone in him. I have never witnessed any bad thoughts, words, threats or attitude from him.”

While together, she said he encouraged her to stick with her studies in psychology and he showered those close to him with financial support and encouragement.

Whatever sentence he receives, Cournoyer has negotiated a deal whereby the American government will not oppose his transfer back to a Canadian prison to serve the remainder of his sentence — a key provision in his decision to plead guilty to his crimes. That means he would be eligible for parole before 2020 and likely be released after serving 13 years of a 20-year mandatory-minimum sentence.

Given his track record, U.S. prosecutors argue it is only a matter of time before he gets back to work. In their sentencing submissions to the judge, they say that “Given his extensive and unabated criminal record, it is not a question of if the defendant will recidivate; it is merely a question of when and how many victims will be left in his wake when he does.”


  1. He took himself over board and did a lot of things wrong....to much flash and to much attention and due to the gun charges he will not be eligible for the drug minus 2 law which just passed .

  2. This Canadian mob scene sounds like Brooklyn and North Jersey during the '70's and '80's, although I have not seen it with the naked eye. I cannot figure for the life of me how people from a beautiful sunny place like southern Italian would settle in a brutally cold place like Canada. There are approximately 250,000 Italian and Italian Canadians in Montreal alone. Ontario is full of Calabrese. I read about some town (I forget the name) that is 90 percent Calabrese.


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