Akwesasne drug probe takes down high-flying Quebec playboy kingpin with ties to Italian Mafia, Mexican cartel

A Drug Enforcement Administration probe that began in Akwesasne, a Mohawk community straddling the Canada-U.S. border, led to the take-down of a 33 year-old Quebec playboy who managed an international, billion dollar drug operation with links to the Italian Mafia and a Mexican cocaine cartel, court documents show.

Images of Jimmy Cournoyer

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A Drug Enforcement Administration probe that began in Akwesasne, a Mohawk community straddling the Canada-U.S. border, led to the take-down of a 33 year-old Quebec playboy who managed an international, billion dollar drug operation with links to the Italian Mafia and a Mexican cocaine cartel, court documents show.

Jimmy Cournoyer, known as Cosmo, admitted this week in U.S. federal in New York City to heading an organization known as the “Consortium” that moved hundreds of thousands of kilograms of British Columbia-grown marijuana into the United States through Akwesasne and down to New York City.

The DEA said the Consortium used cash from marijuana sales to buy cocaine from the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico which was then moved into Canada.

In addition to the Sinaloa cartel, the sprawling organization was linked by the DEA to the Hells Angels and the Rizzuto and Bonanno crime families. The Consortium not only dealt in marijuana and cocaine, but also pills and guns.

At the centre of this sprawling and lucrative underworld operation were three Akwesasne men who controlled the movement of money and marijuana across the Canada-U.S. border for the Consortium and made so much cash off the enterprise they hid millions of dollars inside their home furniture, according to court documents.

The U.S. prosecutors on the case also filed a list of Cournoyer’s “co-conspirators” that included dozens of people from Akwesasne, including one of the most prominent businessmen, along with his son and another man, Richard “Acid” Adams, who was indicted in New York State and Pennsylvania for marijuana smuggling, but has been missing since 2009. Some in the community say he is dead, others say he’s hiding-out overseas.

It was the DEA’s case against Akwesasne men Randolf Square, Kenneth Cree and David Sunday that eventually led to Cournoyer who was living a Hollywood-movie worthy life complete with Rizzuto crime family associates as his drivers, body guards and enforcers while he went hand-in-hand with a professional model girlfriend and drove one of the fastest street-legal cars in the world between parties graced by movie stars.

While DEA agents were investigating Square, Cree and Sunday, who were indicted in 2009 for their alleged role in moving marijuana and cash back and forth across the border via the St. Lawrence River, they managed to get the Montreal kingpin in their sights.

“During the course of the investigation leading to the indictments and prosecution of Square, DEA agents indentified the Canadian leadership responsible for controlling the flow of illegal narcotics through the Akwesasne transportation networks run by (Square, Sunday and Cree) and other high level defendants indicted in Square,” said the court filing. “Rather than indict the Canadian leadership at the time and supersede these defendants into the Square case…the government elected to continue to investigate these targets because of an intriguing new development.”

DEA agents discovered Cournoyer’s Consortium would bring in marijuana from British Columbia in transport trucks fitted with hidden compartments. The shipments would then be divided into smaller portions and taken across the St. Lawrence River by the Akwesasne network on boats and snowmobiles in winter, also fitted with hidden compartments.

The marijuana would primarily be taken to a portion of Akwesasne known as Snye, which sits in Quebec, but is only accessible by road through the U.S. There, the marijuana would be put into pick-up trucks, also fitted with hidden compartments, and transported down to New York City stash houses in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Cournoyer also had stash houses in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California.

U.S. authorities say the Hells Angels biker gang was also involved in the bulk transportation of the marijuana in transport trucks.

DEA agents discovered that a Montreal Consortium member named Mario “Diego” Racine would arrange for the transport of the marijuana across the Canada-U.S. border through the Akwesasne transportation networks.

The DEA investigators also discovered that rather than trying to launder the tens of millions of dollars in cash from marijuana sales, the Consortium used it to buy cocaine smuggled into the U.S. by the Sinaloa cartel. Cournoyer’s Consortium would ship tens of millions of dollars from New York to California and Arizona to purchase cocaine for eventual distribution in Canada.

“Resulting in enormous profits, but also effectively laundering the money without the need for any cash to cross international borders,” according to a filing by U.S. prosecutors.

The DEA then set to work on infiltrating the Consortium using wiretaps, informants, physical and electronic surveillance and undercover sting operations. The investigation led to the seizure of about 50 kilograms of cocaine along with several million dollars worth of drug money.

U.S. prosecutors contemplated indicting Cournoyer and the Consortium leaders as part of the Square case, but elected to keep them separate, court filings show.

The court filings, however, are silent on how the cocaine money was eventually laundered or how the cocaine made it into Canada.

APTN National News has obtained an affidavit from the RCMP used to obtain a search warrant during Operation Cancun in 2008 that states Canadian authorities believe large quantities of cocaine are smuggled north through Akwesasne.

Canadian authorities, however, have never made any large scale cocaine busts in the area.

The Consortium’s modus operandi of using marijuana cash to buy cocaine is also not new.

APTN National New
s has already reported on a separate case involving individuals under surveillance during Operation Cancun who were indicted in Massachusetts for also using pot cash to buy coke from the Sinaloa cartel in California for eventual distribution in Canada.  In this case, marijuana, smuggled through Akwesasne, was distributed to Boston and New York City and stored in stash houses in Queens.

That case is also silent on how the cocaine moved into Canada.

Cournoyer will be sentenced on Sept. 27.

[email protected]


Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

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