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South Carolina Man Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy and Gun Possession

JUNE 14 (LAREDO, Texas) – Marcus Mickle, 21, of Columbia, S.C., has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for a conspiracy related to cocaine and marijuana trafficking and for possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier Peña and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Mickle pleaded guilty in September 2012 and is the third of seven co-defendants to be sentenced in this drug trafficking conspiracy, some of whom were also involved in a murder-for-hire conspiracy.

Today, Senior United Sates District Judge George P. Kazen handed Mickle consecutive sentences of 120 and 60 months for the drug conspiracy and firearms convictions, respectively.

According to the factual basis of Mickle’s plea agreement, the investigation began in January 2011, when Mickle began negotiations with persons whom he thought were members of the Los Zetas Cartel, actually undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, to purchase marijuana in return for stolen weapons. The discussions concerned the distribution of marijuana in the Columbia area and how Mickle and co-defendant Calvin Epps, 29, of Hopkins, S.C., told undercover agents about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons to them. The agents were later introduced to co-defendant Kevin Corley, 30, who identified himself as an active duty officer in the Army responsible for training soldiers.

Court records indicate that over the next several months, Corley communicated with undercover agents regarding the services he could provide the cartel as a result of the training, experience and access to information/equipment afforded him as an active duty soldier. He later met with undercover agents and offered to raid a ranch near Laredo containing 20 kilograms of cocaine and conduct a contract killing there.  

According to the factual basis, Corley further offered to provide security for Mickle and Epps’ purchase of 500 pounds of marijuana for transport from Texas to South Carolina. He traveled with Mickle and Epps to Laredo, where they all loaded the marijuana into a tractor trailer and attempted to escort it back to South Carolina. The tractor-trailer carrying the load was stopped and seized in La Salle County, on Jan. 14, 2012. However, Corley continued to contact undercover agents to discuss the possibility of future transactions with the agents.

During March 2012, Corley arranged for 300 pounds of marijuana to be delivered to Mario Corley, 41, of Saginaw, in Charleston, S.C., and assisted in brokering 500 pounds of marijuana and five kilograms of cocaine for Mickle and Epps and discussed the distribution of these narcotics in South Carolina, Texas and Colorado.

On March 24, 2012, undercover agents met with Epps and Mickle in Columbia at a motel parking lot. During this meeting, Epps and Mickle discussed with the undercover agent the pre-arranged purchase of five kilograms of cocaine and 500 pounds of marijuana. Epps and Mickle were supposed to provide $50,000 as an initial payment for the cocaine and marijuana. During the meeting, Epps and Mickle were arrested. Epps had a loaded Raven Arms Model MP-25 handgun in his right cargo pants pocket. Mickle had a loaded Springfield Armory XD-40 handgun in the right side waistband of his pants as well as a loaded spare magazine.

According to the factual basis, Mickle admitted to agents that when he went to the meeting, he was expecting to receive five kilograms of cocaine and 500 pounds of marijuana. Mickle further admitted the cocaine was going to be purchased by another person who was going to provide the $50,000 but was available only by cell phone. Mickle further acknowledged he was going to split the marijuana with Epps and that they were going to sell the marijuana locally.

Meanwhile, also on March 24, 2012, Kevin Corley, Samuel Walker, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Shavar Davis, 30, of Denver, Colo., traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents regarding the murder-for-hire, at which time they discussed the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill and their respective roles. The three were arrested, during which time a fourth suspect was shot and killed.

Davis was sentenced last week to 10 years in federal prison. Robert Corley, who pleaded guilty to the marijuana conspiracy, was previously sentenced to 30 months in prison. Walker will be sentenced June 21, while the remaining co-defendants - Kevin Corley, Calvin Epps and Mario Corley - have not yet been scheduled for sentencing.
 
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.


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