Canadian Drug Kingpin with Ties to the Rizutto and Bonanno Crime Families, the Hells Angels and the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel Pleads Guilty to Narcotics Trafficking Crimes Carrying Sentence of 20 Years to Life and $1 Billion in Forfeiture
Defendant was the Leader of an International Drug Trafficking Empire Spanning all of North America and Responsible for Smuggling Over 100,000 Kilograms of Marijuana, 83 Kilograms of Cocaine and Tens of Thousands of MDMA Pills Through the U.S. and Canada
Jimmy Cournoyer, the leader of a massive international drug trafficking enterprise with ties to La Cosa Nostra, the Hells Angels and the notorious Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, pled guilty earlier today before U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn to eleven counts contained in a superseding indictment returned on April 3, 2013. Specifically, Cournoyer pled guilty to being the leader of a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracies to manufacture, import and distribute marijuana, conspiracies to export and distribute cocaine, substantive cocaine distribution and a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of narcotics trafficking. When sentenced, Cournoyer will face a statutory mandatory minimum twenty-year sentence and an advisory Guidelines range of life imprisonment. As part of his sentence, Cournoyer also agreed to a $1 billion forfeiture money judgment and will forfeit $10,871,120 in narcotics proceeds that federal agents seized from multiple locations in New York, California, Pennsylvania and Kansas during the multi-year investigation.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York (DEA).
According to the indictment and other court filings submitted by the government, Cournoyer was the principal leader of a Montreal-based drug distribution organization affiliated with the Rizutto and Bonanno crime families, the Hells Angels and the Sinaloa Cartel. A superseding indictment charged Cournoyer with trafficking more than $1 billion worth of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy into the United States between 1998 and 2012. Cournoyer’s organization transported tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana from outdoor growers in British Colombia to Montreal, Canada, and controlled numerous warehouses in and around Montreal for the manufacture of ecstasy and hydroponic marijuana. The drugs were smuggled into the United States using transportation networks run by the Hells Angels and Native American co-conspirators from the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation along the U.S./Canadian border. Once the drugs were sold in the United States, much of it by distributors tied to the Bonanno crime family in New York, the organization used millions of dollars in drug proceeds to purchase cocaine from the powerful Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico for exportation to and distribution in Canada by members and associates of the Rizzuto crime family. Cournoyer was also charged with witness tampering in connection with his attempts to dissuade co-conspirators from cooperating with law enforcement by, among other things, establishing a $2 million “hit fund” set aside to murder or otherwise retaliate against any individuals who cooperated with the government.
During the course of the government’s investigation, law enforcement agents in the United States and Canada seized hundreds of pounds of marijuana, 83 kilograms of cocaine, 60,000 MDMA pills, multiple firearms and ammunition, more than 800 marijuana plants and nearly $11,000,000 in narcotics proceeds from Cournoyer’s criminal enterprise. In total, more than 100 defendants have pled guilty to narcotics trafficking charges since the investigation commenced in 2007.
United States Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Nassau County Police Department and the Laval Police Service, Laval, Quebec for their extraordinary work on this nearly seven-year investigation. Ms. Lynch further thanked the New York City Police Department; New York State Police; Surete Du Quebec; Montreal Police Department; Peel Regional Police Department, Ontario; Delta Police Department, British Colombia; Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Swift Current Division; Ontario Provincial Police; Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service; Akwesasne Tribal Police; Beverly Hills Police Department; Santa Ana Police Department; Anaheim Police Department; Costa Mesa Police Department; U.S. Border Patrol and Philadelphia Police Department for their important contributions to the successful outcome.
“With the assistance of our law enforcement partners across the United States and in Canada, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York was able to bring to justice a prolific drug kingpin with ties to some of the most powerful organized crime groups in the world,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Jimmy Cournoyer used Native American Reservations to violate the security of our national borders and smuggled more than $1 billion worth of deadly narcotics and firearms between the United States, Canada and Mexico. His territory - all of North America. His goal - to extend the deadly narcotics trade as far as he could and eliminate those who might think of assisting law enforcement. His conviction exemplifies the global cooperation necessary to combat international organized crime and this Office’s commitment to dismantling these dangerous criminal organizations wherever they are located.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Crowell stated, “This organization consisted of a den of thieves ranging from the Rizutto and Bonanno crime families, to the Hells Angels and the Sinaloa Cartel. The organization operated across all of North America. This investigation’s success is the result of our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partnership targeting these organized crime syndicates, Mexican cartels, the Hells Angels, along with a $2 million ‘hit fund’ to deter witness cooperation.” SAC Crowell commends the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York; the Laval (Canada) Police Service; the Nassau County Police Department and the several state and local law enforcement partners who assisted with this investigation.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven L. Tiscione, Amir H. Toossi and Tanisha Payne.
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