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Indicted in multistate, murder-for-hire drug trafficking case

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Columbia man and two Hopkins men are among seven charged in a five-count federal indictment in a drug-trafficking and murder-for-hire case stretching from South Carolina to Texas. Robert Corley, 23, of Columbia was arrested Wednesday and appeared in a Columbia courtroom Thursday, following which the US Attorney’s Office in Houston unsealed its indictment. In 15 pages, available at the end of this story, the indictment details charges against Corley and six other men: • Kevin “KC” Corley, age not given, of Colorado Springs, • Samuel Walker, of Colorado Springs, • Calvin “Beef” Epps, 26, of Hopkins, • Marcus “Junior” Mickle, 20, of Hopkins, • Shavar Davis, 29, of Denver, and • Mario Corley, 40, of Saginaw, Texas. Kevin and Mario Corley, Walker, Epps, Mickle and Davis were arrested March 24 in Texas and South Carolina. Mario Corley’s arrest in South Carolina was for a related criminal charge. According to the indictment, all the men except Robert Corley conspired between Jan. 7 and March 24 to accept $50,000 in cash and 5 kilos of cocaine in return for a murder at the behest of los Zetas Mexican drug cartel. The investigation began a year earlier, in January 2011, when Mickle is accused in the indictment of discussing the purchase of marijuana with undercover agents he thought were los Zetas members. He and Epps eventually met with agents and proposed taking 500 pounds of pot from them in return for a down payment of stolen firearms. They are accused of telling the agents they would sell the pot in Columbia. The indictment accuses the men of going to Laredo in on Sept. 14, 2011, to continue discussions with the agents posing as los Zetas members, including settling on a price of $350 per pound. The agents accuse the men of proposing using the proceeds of the sale of pot in Columbia to obtain handguns, rifles, fully-automatic rifles and grenades. Mickle and Epps are accused of introducing the undercover agents to Kevin Corley, whom they represented as an active duty US Army officer willing to train cartel members in approaches, room clearing, security and convoy security; and purchase military weapons for them with the serial numbers removed. In December, the indictment says, Corley mailed his “cartel” contacts a US Army Battle Book and discussed his willingness to raid a Laredo ranch for them to steal 20 kilos of cocaine and perform “wet work,” meaning a contract killing. On Jan. 7, Kevin Corley is accused of meeting with the undercover agents he thought were drug cartel members and sold them bullet-proof vests, Army manuals and unspecified other items. He also is accused of settling on a contract-killing fee of $50,000 and 5 kilos of cocaine, the indictment says. Finally, he brokered a deal in which Mickle and Epps would buy 500 pounds of pot for the Columbia market, for which he would provide security during transport. A week later, the three men and Jerome Corley are accused of traveling to Laredo to pick up their pot with a tractor trailer. They met their “cartel” contacts at a truck stop, then moved to a parking lot where the drugs were stowed in a box truck. The four men then escorted the truck north on Interstate 35 in a separate vehicle, but the truck was intercepted in La Salle County, Texas. The driver was arrested and the payload seized. The indictment says Kevin Corley called his cartel contact to let him know. Despite that setback, the indictment accuses Kevin Corley of continuing to talk with the “cartel” members about future business, including making an arrangements to move 300 pounds of pot to Mario Corley in Charleston, and brokering the sale of another 500 pounds and 5 kilos of cocaine for Mickle and Epps. The indictment accuses Kevin Corley of meeting with undercover agents March 5 in Colorado Springs, Colo., where, for $10,000, he gave them two AR-15 (M-4) rifles with scopes, an airsoft assault training rifle, five bullet-proof vests alleged to be stolen and other unspecified equipment. At this time, the indictment says, he continued discussions about the Laredo ranch raid. He told them, allegedly, that he had even acquired a new Ka-Bar knife to carve a los Zetas trademark “Z” in the victim’s chest. The indictment says Kevin Corley, Walker, Jerome Corley and Davis traveled to Laredo on March 24. Around 12:35 p.m., they met with the “cartel” members again to finalize plans for the ranch raid. They were arrested at that time and several weapons were seized from their vehicle, including two semi-automatic rifles with scopes, a bolt-action rifle with a scope and bipod, a hatchet, a knife and ammunition. On the same day in a Columbia motel parking lot, undercover agents met with Epps and Mickle to discuss the purchase of 5 kilos of cocaine and 500 pounds of marijuana. The indictment accuses Mickle of saying he did not have the money and that the “cartel” members would need to get it directly from his buyer out of the country. The agents then asked Epps and Mickle to come inside the motel to meet their boss. At that point they were arrested. Undercover agents also met with Mario Corley in Summerville in a restaurant off Interstate 26. The indictment says Mario Corley arrived in a white van with Robert Corley, who is accused of telling the agents he was there to test the quality of the drugs. All seven men are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. All except Robert Corley are also 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. Mario and Robert Corley are expected to be moved to Texas in the near future, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Texas.

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