Indictments in DEA Undercover Drug Conspiracy/Murder-For-Hire Case
April 26 - (Laredo, TX) – Seven people have now been charged in a five-count indictment with drug trafficking, use and carrying of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and violent crime and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The indictment against those charged has now been unsealed in its entirety.
Those charged are:
Kevin Corley, Walker, Epps, Mickle and Davis have been in custody since their arrests on March 24, 2012. A date has not yet been set for their appearance on the indictment. Mario Corley was arrested on a related criminal complaint in South Carolina, also on March 24. He has been in custody since that time and made his initial appearance yesterday in South Carolina. Robert Corley is set to make his initial appearance in Columbia, South Carolina today at 2:30 p.m. Mario and Robert Corley are both expected to be transferred to this district in the near future.
The indictment alleges that beginning on or about January 7, 2012, to on or about March 24, 2012; all except Robert Corley conspired with each other to commit murder for hire for $50,000 cash and five kilograms of cocaine.
Kevin Corley was introduced to undercover agents posing as members of the Los Zetas Cartel, at which time he allegedly claimed to be an active duty officer in the U.S. Army responsible for training soldiers and that he could provide tactical training for members of the cartel and purchase weapons for them.
The indictment alleges that from approximately September to October 2011, Corley remained in contact with the undercover agents and that he discussed stealing weapons from military posts and military tactics and later agreed to bring his own team and raid a ranch in the Laredo area containing 20 kilograms of cocaine and conduct a contract killing there.
On March 24, 2012, Kevin Corley, Walker, and Davis traveled to Laredo, at which time they met with undercover agents and discussed the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill, their respective roles and confirmed they knew the group was to receive $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine upon the completion of these tasks. They were subsequently arrested and a search of their vehicle revealed two semi-automatic rifles with scopes, one bolt-action rifle with a scope and bipod, one hatchet, one K-Bar knife and ammunition.
The investigation initially began in January 2011 when Mickle had begun negotiations with DEA undercover agents, whom he believed worked for the Los Zetas Cartel, for the purchase of marijuana. As a result of the months-long negotiations, Mickle and Epps later met with undercover agents and proposed the undercover agents provide them with 500 pounds of marijuana which they would then distribute in the Columbia, South Carolina, area as well as the possibility of future drug shipments, according to the indictment. Corley had offered to provide security for Mickle and Epps’ purchase of 500 pounds of marijuana for transport and traveled with them to Laredo, where they loaded the marijuana into a tractor trailer and attempted to escort it back to South Carolina. However, the tractor-trailer carrying the load was stopped and seized in La Salle County, Texas, on January 14, 2012.
The indictment alleges Corley continued to contact undercover agents to discuss the possibility of future transactions with the agents and allegedly arranged for 300 pounds of marijuana to be delivered to Mario Corley in Charleston, South Carolina, and assisted in brokering 500 pounds of marijuana and five kilograms of cocaine for Mickle and Epps.
On March 24, 2012, undercover agents met with Epps and Mickle in Columbia, South Carolina, at which time they discussed the pre-arranged purchase of the cocaine and marijuana. At the meeting, agents noticed a loaded Raven Arms Model MP-25 handgun and a loaded Springfield Armory XD-40 handgun in their possession. Also on that date, undercover agents met with Mario Corley in Summerville, South Carolina. Prior to the meeting, Mario Corley allegedly called the undercover agents to ask how the marijuana was packaged and the size of the bundles, shortly after which Mario Corley arrived driving a white van with Robert Corley. Mario Corley allegedly spoke with the undercover agents about the payment for the marijuana, while Robert Corley stated he was there to test the quality of the marijuana that Mario Corley was supposed to pick up., according to the indictment.
All seven men are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana for which they face a minimum of at least 10 years to a maximum of life in prison and/or a $10 million fine. All except Robert Corley are charged with conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking or violent crime and conspiracy to use a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking or violent crime. The murder-for-hire charge carries a possible punishment 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, while the use of a firearm charge and the conspiracy to use a firearm charges carry a minimum 10 years consecutive to any other sentence to a possible life sentence and/or a $250,000 fine and 20 years in prison and/or $250,000 fine, respectively. Kevin Corley, Epps and Mickle are also charged with possession with the intent to distribute in excess of 100 kilograms of marijuana and face an additional five to 40 years in prison and/or a $5 million fine.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the DEA and the FBI with the assistance of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roberto Ramirez and Jody Young.
For more information on this investigation, see the March 26, 2012 DEA press release here.An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.