Despite his “retirement,” Georges St. Pierre is making headlines. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Approximately five years ago, Georges St. Pierre reportedly formed a friendship with a man who would eventually be arrested in 2012 for trafficking large amounts of marijuana into the United States.
Jimmy Cournoyer, a Quebec native known as the “King of Pot,” is currently awaiting sentencing for his federal case in New York. St. Pierre, the former UFC welterweight champion, reportedly remains firmly in his friend’s corner.
According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, St. Pierre submitted a letter of support on Cournoyer’s behalf to be included in the defense’s position statement. After his 2012 arrest, Cournoyer pleaded guilty in 2013 to running a lucrative$1 billion drug trafficking operation between 1998 and 2012 that smuggled Canadian marijuana into the U.S.
Over the course of more than a decade, he allegedly trafficked at least 100,000 kilograms of marijuana grown in Quebec across the border. He also reportedly dealt 83 kilograms of cocaine and admitted to participating in money laundering.
Cournoyer was supposed to be sentenced last Friday, but the prosecution in the case requested a delay that will move sentencing to August. As part of a plea bargain to avoid life in prison, Cournoyer faces a minimum mandatory 20-year sentence. He will also forfeit $1 billion to the U.S. government as well as another $11 million in seized drug money. Cournoyer’s last arrest occurred in 2007.
Cournoyer lived a lavish lifestyle that included expensive cars, a supermodel girlfriend and fancy parties with celebrities. He also allegedly had a number of criminal contacts including now-deceased Montreal mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, Montreal’s West End Gang, the Hells Angels and the Sinaloa cartel, among others.
Another prominent contact Cournoyer made was St. Pierre, with whom he bonded over a mutual love of fitness. Cournoyer was known to have sparred with the Tristar Gym stalwart.
The Gazette published portions of the letter St. Pierre submitted supporting Cournoyer. As of Wednesday afternoon, Sherdog.com requests for comment from St. Pierre’s management were not returned.
According to the letter, the two men first met at a restaurant in 2009 and would later travel together to Ibiza, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It was the beginning of what appeared to be a strong bond.
“We had the time of our life. Jimmy became like a brother to me,” St. Pierre allegedly wrote in the letter. “We traveled together, we trained together, we were going to restaurants, clubs and having a lot of fun. Jimmy is a very loyal friend who I respect very much.
“I’ve never judged Jimmy,” it continued. “Actually, what he was doing [with] his life wasn’t any of my business. We have a very human relationship; we share the same passions, which is sport fitness and martial arts.”
According to the the Gazette, St. Pierre has already visited Cournoyer twice in jail since his arrest.
“His mental toughness will help him go through this very hard ordeal in his life. Jimmy is a very positive and strong person, and I am sure he will learn huge lessons about all that. I am giving a lot of support to Jimmy because he deserves it,” St. Pierre wrote. “I told him last time I visited him that when he comes out of jail, I will have a place for him in my surrounding(s).”
St. Pierre last fought in November, when he captured a controversial split verdict over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Approximately one month later, “Rush” elected to take a leave of absence from the sport and vacate his welterweight title. St. Pierre hinted that he might return to Octagon eventually but offered no set timetable for such a comeback.
Earlier this year, St. Pierre revealed that he tore his left ACL while training and would need surgery, likely further delaying any potential return to fighting.