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Ottawa man pleads guilty to controlled substance charge

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ALBANY– A 30-year-old Ottawa man pleaded guilty Friday to charges that crossed the border into the United States to take drugs to New York City for redistribution.

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

Cunningham faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and is being detained pending his sentencing.

During the plea proceeding, Cunningham admitted that, on April 9, 2013, he loaded a sport utility vehicle with 58,183 grams of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine Hydrochloride (commonly known as “Molly”) and then drove the sport utility vehicle from Canada into the United States through an unmanned border, intending to take the “Molly” to New York City for redistribution.

Cunningham was observed entering the United States from Canada through an unmanned border crossing in the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. Members of the Border Enforcement Security Task Force in Massena followed Cunningham and later stopped him. Law enforcement officers searched the sport utility vehicle and found the “Molly,” as well as more than $140,000 in U.S. currency, in hidden compartments and duffel bags.

Sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 7 in Albany.

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

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