Mario Nucci knows exactly how dangerous the drug trade can be: His older brother, Franco, was shot to death in 2005 in a suspected "hit" linked to organized crime.
But despite the obvious perils, that didn’t stop Nucci from trying to increase his own financial bottom line. And now he is paying a steep price, in the form of a four-year prison sentence handed down Tuesday for cocaine trafficking.
"I’ve made a big mistake. It will never happen again," Nucci, 49, told court before being taken away to begin serving his sentence.
Nucci was arrested in 2008 after an undercover police investigation which included hiding surveillance cameras inside the granite business he was running in Winnipeg. Police watched as Nucci, and several other criminal cohorts, manufactured and sold quantities of cocaine.
"Drug trafficking is nefarious. This city is suffering from a multitude of violent crime that’s taken place as a result of drug trafficking," Queen’s Bench Justice Jeffrey Oliphant said Tuesday.
Defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx told court his client has changed his life for the better while out on bail for the past four years. Nucci now plans to use his time in custody to further his rehabilitation.
He hopes to avoid a similar fate as Franco, whose body was found along with that of another man inside a partially burnt-out GMC Yukon on Remembrance Day, 2005. A hunter discovered their bodies on an isolated road in the middle of Quebec's Laurentian Mountains. No arrests have ever been made.
At the time of his death, Franco had been on the run for months after failing to turn up in a Montreal courtroom. He was a three-time convicted cocaine dealer who had spent much of the 1990s in Stony Mountain prison.
People close to Franco described him as a trusted family member and friend who was intelligent and easygoing. Franco once had ties to Walter Stadnick, once one of the most powerful Hells Angels in the country and the man chiefly responsible for bringing the outlaw motorcycle gang to Winnipeg in the late '90s.
Franco’s killing and the fact the truck he was in was partially burnt has the hallmark of the Hells Angels. The other man killed was Martin Dubreuil. Police said at the time that Dubreuil was killed simply because he was with Franco at the time. Dubreuil was not known to police and not considered a player in Quebec's cocaine trade.