A man pleaded guilty in federal court today for a murder-for-hire plot and conspiracy to distribute fentanyl.
A St. Louis man pleaded guilty on Monday to drug-conspiracy and murder-for-hire charges after his drug organization attempted to use a confidential Drug Enforcement Agency source to kill a man who owed him money.
Kevin Cunningham admitted in court that he contacted higher-ranking members of a drug conspiracy to arrange for the murder of a man who owed him more than $100,000 in drug-related debts.
According to a federal indictment, a Mexico-based member of the drug group told a secret Drug Enforcement Administration source connect with a woman working with the drug organization for more details on the hit. The woman told the undercover source that they, along with another associate, would each receive $5,000 to murder Cunningham's debtor.
The secret source and another person met with Cunningham on October 13. The source was equipped with an audio-and-video recording device that law enforcement monitored during the meeting.
Cunningham told the pair he wanted them to pick up the victim and get as much money from him as possible before killing him. He later texted a picture of the target, gave them the debtor's address and supplied them with $600 in expense money and four "toys," his code for firearms.
Authorities arrested Cunningham and a co-defendant after the guns — two .45-caliber pistols, a 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 style pistol with a 50-round drum magazine — were handed over.
Cunningham, 36, on Monday pleaded guilty to the murder-for-hire charge and a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl charge.
"We often say that drug trafficking and violence are closely connected," Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey said in a statement. "But this case of murder between drug traffickers shows the people in this illegal industry have no limits to the criminal activities they are willing to engage in. Selling fentanyl that causes overdose deaths and plotting to kill someone? It's best for St. Louis that this man will not be on our streets."