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For the week of December 5 - 11, 2001


Last of 13 drug traffickers pleads guilty

Express Staff Writer

One of the Wood River Valley’s most extensive drug trafficking cases was wrapped up in Fifth District Court in Hailey on Friday when the 13th and final defendant admitted to having sold marijuana.

Facing a trial scheduled for this past Monday, Louis Eugene Cunningham, 59, changed his plea to guilty to one count of distribution of marijuana and one count of failure to affix an illegal tax stamp. The maximum five-year penalty for distribution of marijuana will be doubled as the result of a previous conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 7.

Cunningham also faces a trial in March for solicitation of murder in the first degree for allegedly trying to arrange the killing of two people scheduled to testify in his drug case.

Most of the 13 traffickers were arrested during an early-morning raid Feb. 7 when 60 local officers executed search warrants at four locations in Blaine County. The bust netted a pound and a half of cocaine, a pound of methamphetamine and two and a half pounds of marijuana.

Three of the defendants were arrested outside the county, including Cunningham who was arrested by the FBI in Los Angeles.

The so-called "kingpin" of the ring, Eliberto Rios Lopez, 28, was convicted by a jury and sentenced in early November to a minimum 12 years and maximum 24 years in prison on two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine and two counts of failure to affix an illegal tax stamp.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.