St. Louis man pleads guilty to murder-for-hire, witness tampering, drug charges


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ST. LOUIS – A 34-year-old appeared in federal court Thursday and pleaded guilty to his role in a drug distribution conspiracy and murder-for-hire plot.

According to court documents, Maurice Woodson was part of a “large-scale and long-term cocaine trafficking conspiracy” from 2012 to 2016. Federal investigators determined this group had a direct Mexican source for cocaine and would ultimately distribute the drug across the St. Louis area.

Federal agents eventually seized more than 70 kilos of cocaine and more than $1 million in cash.

While in the course of trafficking narcotics, Woodson was allegedly recruited to kill someone and he agreed to do so. On Dec. 5, 2013, Woodson shot and killed the intended target and was rewarded with drugs and money as compensation.

In 2014, Woodson was recruited to kill another person as part of the drug trafficking conspiracy. On Nov. 28, 2014, Woodson shot and killed one man and injured two others.

Woodson was indicted in January 2016 for the December 2013 murder and detained pending trial.

While in jail, prosecutors said Woodson “initiated a murder-for-hire scheme” and recruited someone to kill a potential witness to the 2013 murder. Woodson arranged meetings and payments with this person.

What Woodson didn’t know was that the individual he recruited was an undercover officer. The murder-for-hire plot was busted and Woodson was hit with additional charges.

Woodson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime resulting in death, and one count of witness tampering.

Woodson will be sentenced in June 2021. In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors will recommend he be imprisoned for 276 months (23 years).

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