A man from Missouri pleaded guilty on Monday to a murder-for-hire charge and a drug conspiracy charge and admitted trying to have a man who owed him more than $100,000 killed.
Kevin Cunningham, 36, of St. Louis, pleaded guilty Monday in front of U.S. District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig to the murder-for-hire charge. He pleaded guilty later in the day in front of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey to a charge of conspiring to distribute fentanyl.
Cunningham admitted as part of his plea that the victim owed more than $100,000, and that he approached higher-ranking members in the conspiracy to arrange the victim’s murder. A Mexico-based member of the organization connected a confidential source secretly working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to a woman working with the drug group. The woman said the confidential source and an associate would each get $5,000 for the murder and gave the source Cunningham’s phone number.
On Oct. 13, 2021, the source and another person met with Cunningham, who said he wanted them to pick up the debtor, get as much money as they could from him and kill him.
Cunningham later texted a picture of the target and his address to the source and provided them with $600 in expense money and four firearms.
Cunningham and a co-defendant were arrested after the guns were handed over.
Cunningham agreed in his plea to forfeit those guns: two .45-caliber pistols, a 12-gauge shotgun, and an AR-15 style pistol with a 50-round drum magazine. He is scheduled to be sentenced in November.
“We often say that drug trafficking and violence are closely connected,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey of the DEA’s St. Louis office. “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.”
The case was investigated by the St. Louis County Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.