DEA Arrests in Drug and Murder Conspiracy

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The link between drug dealing and violence is an accepted one. Dealers may even have an “enforcement” arm to defend against others and keep their customers in line. So when the DEA arrested six men this month for drug charges, the added murder-for-hire element wasn’t outrageous. Still, it was unusual how the investigation went down.

The complaint alleges Marcus Mickle and a friend were out to trade stolen guns for marijuana. He and a co-defendant didn’t know they were talking to undercover DEA agents when they offered to get a third man, an officer in the US military, to get guns for the faux dealers. It was this third man, Mario Corley, who would volunteer to be an assassin for the cartel.

The DEA agents, in their roles as members of the Zeta drug cartel, spun a story of stolen drugs and asked the men if they could do a “hit” for them. The men agreed. Corley ultimately agreed to $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine to perform the contract killing and retrieve the 20 kilograms of cocaine and offered to refund the money if the victim survived.

Simultaneously, the DEA was working to infiltrate the marijuana distribution network and this is where the other three arrests came from. The murder plots were concocted in Laredo, Texas, while the marijuana sales operation was centered in Charleston, South Carolina. Along with the murder for hire operation, the defendants participated in security on a marijuana shipment from Texas to South Carolina.

According to the DEA press release, the criminal complaint charges conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and carries a possible punishment of a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison and/or a $10 million fine. Use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking or violent crime could result in up to 10 years in prison which is served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. Those charged in the indictment for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, including Corley, Mickle and Epps, also face five to 40 years in prison if convicted.

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