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Press Release

Drug Traffickers Plead Guilty to Execution-Style Murders of Two Men

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

DETROIT – A Texas drug trafficker pleaded guilty yesterday to charges related to the murder of two men in Detroit and to conspiring to distribute over 50 kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today. An Alabama co-conspirator pleaded guilty last week to the same charges.

Joining in the announcement were James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division.

Mariano Garcia, age 53, of Brownsville, Texas, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Terrence G. Berg. Co-defendant Michael Griffin, age 40, of Birmingham, Alabama, pleaded guilty before Judge Berg on April 28, 2023. Both men pleaded guilty to (1) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, (2) interstate travel with the intent to kill or injure where death resulted, and (3) interstate travel in aid of illegal activity where death resulted.

At their plea hearings, both Garcia and Griffin admitted to engaging in a long-term drug trafficking conspiracy involving cocaine supplied by Garcia in Texas and distributed by Griffin and others in Birmingham, Alabama, and Detroit, Michigan. At his plea, Garcia admitted to encouraging Griffin to travel from Alabama to Detroit to collect a drug debt from a Detroit-based member of the conspiracy. In December 2016, Griffin and another individual came to Detroit for the purpose of killing that member of the conspiracy. After coming to the conspirator’s home, Griffin and the other individual tied up and shot to death the Detroit-based co-conspirator and another man. They used pillows to muffle the sounds of the gunshots. At his plea, Garcia, who remained in Texas, also admitted he encouraged Griffin to hurt the co-conspirator to collect the drug debt. After the murders, Griffin and Garcia returned to their drug business. Garcia and Griffin also admitted that they had distributed between 50 and 150 kilograms of cocaine during the conspiracy.

“These two men murdered two people in cold blood in Detroit to further their cocaine trafficking conspiracy,” U.S. Attorney Ison stated. “We will not stop fighting until this kind of senseless violence is ended.”

Sentencing for Griffin and Garcia is set for September 21, 2023. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Griffin faces a sentence of 30 years in prison. Garcia faces a sentence of 25 years.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Detroit Police Department’s Homicide Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rajesh Prasad and Robert Moran.

Updated May 5, 2023

Drug Trafficking