Sunday

Quebec drug kingpin Jimmy Cournoyer began forming an empire after family fell apart

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.

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