Another Sentenced In Relation To Drug And Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy
LAREDO, Texas – Calvin Epps, 29, of Hopkins, S.C., has been ordered to prison in a drug conspiracy that has also resulted in the conviction of others in a conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Epps, 29, of Hopkins, S.C., was convicted in November 2012 along with Samuel Walker, 29, of Sharon, Miss., following a seven-day trial. Five others entered guilty pleas in relation to the case - Mario Corley, 41, of Saginaw; Marcus Mickle, 21, Robert Corley, 24, and Kevin Corley, 30, all of Columbia, S.C.; and Shavar Davis, 30, of Denver, Colo.
Today, Senior United Sates District Court Judge George P. Kazen sentenced Epps to respective sentences of 120 and 60 months imprisonment for the conspiracy related to drug trafficking and for possessing a firearm during in and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The sentences will be served consecutively. He was further ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and he will be on supervised release for five years following his 15-year federal sentence.
According to the evidence presented at trial, 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. According to the testimony of DEA agents, the discussions concerned the distribution of marijuana in the Columbia area and how Mickle and Epps told undercover agents about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons to them. The agents were later introduced to Kevin Corley, who identified himself as an active duty officer in the Army responsible for training soldiers. According to the agents’ testimony, Kevin Corley offered to provide tactical training for cartel members and to purchase weapons for the cartel.
Over the next several months, Kevin Corley continued to communicate 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 agreed to bring a team and raid a ranch located at or near Laredo containing 20 kilograms of cocaine and conduct a contract killing there in return for a $50,000 fee and five kilograms of cocaine.
During March 2012, Corley arranged for 300 pounds of marijuana to be delivered to Mario Corley in Charleston, S.C. Kevin Corley, Mickle and Epps also brokered 500 pounds of marijuana and five kilograms of cocaine and discussed the distribution of these narcotics in South Carolina, Texas and Colorado.
According to testimony, Kevin Corley further offered to provide security for Mickle and Epps’ purchase of 500 pounds of marijuana for transport from Texas to South Carolina. On Jan. 14, 2012, Kevin Corley, Epps and Mickle all 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.
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 for which Epps and Mickle were supposed to provide $50,000 as an initial payment. During the meeting, Epps and Mickle were arrested. Epps had a loaded Raven Arms Model MP-25 handgun in his right cargo pants pocket, while Mickle had a loaded Springfield Armory XD-40 handgun as well as a loaded spare magazine. Epps testified at trial that he was not involved in the purchase of the cocaine, only the marijuana and denied intending to carry the Raven Arms handgun as a part of the drug deal.
Also on March 24, Kevin Corley, Walker and Davis traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents, at which time they discussed the location of the intended victim of the murder-for-hire, the logistics of performing the contract kill and their respective roles. They were soon thereafter arrested and a fourth suspect was shot and killed. Several firearms and ammunition was located within the vehicle in which they arrived.
Walker and Mickle have also been sentenced to 15 years in this case, while Davis received a sentence of 10 years in federal prison. Robert Corley, who pleaded guilty to the marijuana conspiracy, was previously sentenced to 30 months in prison. The remaining two co-defendants, Kevin Corley 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.