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Truck Driver Gets 21-Year Sentence For Drug Smuggling

ICE agents outside one of the Otay Mesa warehouses where underground smugglin...
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Above: ICE agents outside one of the Otay Mesa warehouses where underground smuggling tunnels were found in November, 2010.

— Twenty-nine year-old Carlos Enrique Cunningham Jr. from Oceanside has pleaded guilty to driving truckloads of marijuana from an Otay Mesa warehouse, connected by tunnel to Tijuana, for distribution in Southern California.

"This sentence that the judge gave is an extremely high sentence, and that is not only because of the vast quantity of marijuana that was seized," said Gretchen von Helms, Cunningham's defense attorney who negotiated the plea agreement. "His sentence was also because there was additional marijuana found at these warehouses."

Cunningham pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges earlier this year, and was given 260-months in prison for helping distribute the nearly 10 tons of pot.

On the morning of Nov. 2nd, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents followed Cunningham's tractor-trailer from Otay to a Border Patrol checkpoint in Temecula. A search there led to the marijuana packed inside large cargo boxes filling the entire trailer.

"His sentence was more aggravated because he was a career offender under the federal sentencing rules," added von Helms. "So his sentence would be harsher than maybe a first-time offender who would be caught with the same amount of marijuana."

Since 2007, more than 77 drug smuggling tunnels have been found along the U.S. Mexico border, mostly in California and Arizona.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 26, 2011 at 8:33 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

Guess he wanted to make one last big score in case Prop 19 passed.

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Avatar for user 'meggafish'

meggafish | April 26, 2011 at 12:03 p.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

Bit stiff considering the crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Regime warmongers, the wall street fraudsters, BP, GE and the other corporate polluters have pulled off isn't it? Wonder if Jeff Skilling and Bernie Madoff get out before Cunningham? Will the nation be safer and drug free now this truck driver is in jail? Will more teachers need to let go to find the $900,000 for Cunningham's incarceration? Would that $900,000 be better spent on a minuteman missile to blow up someone's village somewhere for some reason? Sad state of affairs.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | April 26, 2011 at 3:06 p.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

Can't do the time, don't do the crime. He knew what he was doing as well as the risks. Glad to see he's off the streets.

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