LAREDO, TX—Kevin Corley, a former active duty officer in the U.S. Army, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Corley, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, also entered guilty pleas for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana and use and carrying of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime just minutes ago in federal court in Laredo, Texas. Shavar Davis, 29, of Denver, Colorado, also pleaded guilty today to the marijuana and cocaine conspiracy as well as conspiracy to commit murder for hire.
According to the factual basis contained within his plea agreement, Kevin Corley, aka KC, was introduced to undercover agents posing as members of los Zetas cartel on or about September 26, 2011, at which time he claimed to be an active duty officer in the U.S. Army responsible for training soldiers; he further asserted he could provide tactical training for members of the cartel and purchase weapons for them. Corley remained in contact with the undercover agents from approximately September to October 2011 and discussed stealing weapons from military posts and military tactics. On December 23, 2011, he further agreed to perform “wet work,” understood to mean a contract killing of a human target in exchange for money and cocaine.
Approximately two weeks later, Corley traveled to Laredo to meet with undercover agents, at which time the contract killing was discussed as well as a future load of 500 kilograms of marijuana. At the meeting, Corley also sold undercover agents a ballistic vest and Army training manuals, among other items, for $6,000. Agents later met with Corley in Colorado and set a date of March 24 for the killing. At this meeting, he also delivered two AR-15 type assault rifles, ballistic vests, and other equipment in exchange for $10,000.
On March 24, 2012, Corley, Davis, and others traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents to discuss the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill, and their respective roles, and confirmed they knew the group was to receive $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine upon the completion of these tasks. They were subsequently arrested and a search of their vehicle revealed two semi-automatic rifles with scopes, one bolt-action rifle with a scope and bipod, one hatchet, one Ka-Bar knife and ammunition.
Corley admitted at the time of his arrest that someone hired him for the killing and that he was to be paid $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine. He further admitted he and his team brought weapons to Laredo to prove to the agent they were serious about the contract kill. Davis admitted he came to Laredo to serve as a driver for Corley and others, who intended to kill someone on a ranch. Davis admitted during his plea colloquy that he expected to be paid $5,000.
Seven men were ultimately charged with varying offenses in relation to this case. Mario Corley, 40, of Saginaw, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in excess of five kilograms and marijuana in excess of 100 kilograms, as did Marcus Mickle, aka Junior, 21, of Hopkins, South Carolina. Mickle also entered a plea to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Robert Corley, 23, of Columbia, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to a separate superseding criminal information which charged him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana in excess of 100 kilograms. Robert and Mario Corley were convicted August 28, 2012, while Mickle entered his plea September 4.
Robert Corley had admitted, at the time of his plea, to making an agreement with Mario Corley to travel to Charleston, South Carolina to pick up “a bunch of weed,” and test the quality of the marijuana, in addition to helping Mario Corley load the marijuana. Robert Corley stated he was expected to be paid a pound of marijuana. Mario Corley, after his arrest, admitted he knew Kevin Corley and others had traveled to Laredo to kill somebody and that he was going to be paid in cocaine and cash.
The cases against Samuel Walker, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Calvin Epps, aka Beef, 28, of Hopkins, South Carolina, are pending. A trial date has not yet been set. They are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
Kevin Corley faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for the murder-for-hire conspiracy as does Davis. The convictions against Kevin Corley, Mario Corley, Davis, and Mickle for the marijuana and cocaine conspiracy carry possible punishments of at least 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10 million fine, while Robert Corley faces at least five and up to 40 years in prison. For use of a firearm conviction, Kevin Corley and Mickle face a minimum of five years in prison which must be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
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.