J’can woman gets 14 years in US for money laundering in drug ring

A Jamaican woman living in Florida who laundered money for an international cocaine ring distributing the drugs in Pittsburgh and New Castle, has been sentenced to more than 14 years behind bars.

Marcia Cunningham, 54, of Plantation, Florida, faces deportation once she completes her sentence, US media reports.

She was sentenced by US District Judge Marilyn Horan last week to 178 months in federal prison for violating money laundering and drug laws in connection with a ring run by Hector Forbes of California.

Forbes pleaded guilty in 2020 and is awaiting sentencing.

The judge also imposed five years of probation on Cunningham’s conviction.

Cunningham is not a citizen of the United States and is expected to be “deported once she completes her sentence,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to information presented to the court, Cunningham was part of an international drug trafficking organization that arranged the importation of several kilograms of cocaine from Mexico which were then distributed by courier to various clients, several of whom resided in the Western District. of Pennsylvania.

The court heard that Forbes was the mastermind. His brother, Robert, was also indicted for his role in the ring, and was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison in 2020.

Cunningham’s role was to launder proceeds from the sale of drugs.

According to the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), she created a post office box using fake IDs and used dozens of bank accounts to receive drug money, then l used to buy cars, properties, jewelry and other items. to support a lavish lifestyle.

She also arranged to use the drug money to buy assets in Jamaica, her native country, where she hoped to return to live, the US attorney’s office said.

Cunningham, Forbes and 15 others in four states were charged in Pittsburgh in 2019.

Former U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said at the time that the ring was one of the biggest cocaine operations uncovered in the area.

The charges against Forbes and the others were the product of an 18-month wiretap investigation by the DEA, along with the state attorney general’s office, the IRS, local police and the office of the Lawrence County District Attorney.

Wiretaps revealed the network was selling cocaine across the country and sending the money back to Forbes in California and Cunningham in Florida.

A second indictment in the case charged various defendants in New Castle, including three siblings.

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