FARGO, N.D. - A Canadian man accused of leading a conspiracy to sell drugs in North Dakota and other states admitted Monday that he tried to buy 30 kilograms of cocaine from undercover agents.
Jerome Catacutan pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance, and money laundering. He faces life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors said Catacutan engaged in ongoing negotiations with U.S. agents posing as large-scale cocaine traffickers. The agents allegedly met with Catacutan at a Bloomington, Minn., bar in October 2009.
A co-conspirator expecting to receive 30 kilograms of cocaine was arrested the following month in Rogers, Minn., with a large bag containing nearly $577,000 in Canadian money, U.S. authorities said.
They documented three other transactions in the case, including nearly $159,000 wired from co-conspirators in Canada to undercover bank accounts in the U.S. on two separate occasions.
In addition, customs officers seized $85,000 at the port of entry in Pembina, N.D., that was meant to pay for cocaine, prosecutors said.
Defence attorney Allan Caplan of Minneapolis and U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon of North Dakota declined to comment Monday.
The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors said the plea agreement calls for Catacutan to pay restitution of $50,000.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 26 in Fargo.