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Ottawa man pleads guilty in drug smuggling case

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An Ottawa man pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he crossed into the United States to take drugs to New York City.

Joel Cunningham, 30, appeared before Judge Glenn T. Suddaby in U.S. District Court in Albany, where he pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, according to U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge James Spero.

Mr. Cunningham admitted that, on April 9, he loaded a sport utility vehicle with 58,183 grams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine hydrochloride (commonly known as “Molly”) and then drove from Canada into the U.S. to take the drugs to New York City for redistribution. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Agents said Mr. Cunningham was observed entering the country through the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. Members of the Border Enforcement Security Task Force in Massena followed him and later stopped him. Agents said officers searched the SUV and found the drugs, along with more than $140,000 in U.S. currency, in hidden compartments and duffel bags.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Myers.

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