Feds Arrest Army Soldiers In Murder-for-Hire Plot

Federal agents have arrested a current and former U.S. Army soldier who offered to steal weapons from Fort Carson, Colo., and organize a hit squad financed by a Mexican drug cartel.

Federal agents have arrested a current and former U.S. Army soldier who offered to steal weapons from Fort Carson, Colo., and organize a hit squad financed by a Mexican drug cartel.

Four other accomplices were also arrested with the two men—1st Lt. Kevin Corley, 29, and Samuel Walker, 28—and charged in the indictment, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced Monday. A seventh man was fatally shot when federal agents moved in to make the arrests. Walker is assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson.

Corley, who was discharged from the Army earlier this month, was arrested Saturday in Laredo, Texas while finalizing details with undercover agents for the contract killing.

The investigation began in January 2011, when Marcus Mickle, 20, began negotiations with DEA agents posting as members of the Los Zetas Cartel to purchase marijuana in return for stolen weapons. Mickle and Calvin Epps allegedly told undercover agents about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons. The agents were later introduced to Corley, who allegedly identified himself as an active duty officer in the U.S. Army responsible for training soldiers. He offered to provide tactical training for cartel members and to purchase weapons for the cartel under his name.

Corley allegedly mailed an Army tactics battle book to the agents, thoroughly explained military tactics, and told undercover agents he could train 40 cartel members in two weeks.

On Jan. 7, Corley traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents to offer his ability to perform "wet work," meaning murder-for-hire. He offered to provide a team to raid a ranch where 20 kilograms of stolen cocaine were being kept by rival cartel members. Corley ultimately agreed to $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine to perform the contract killing and retrieve the 20 kilograms of cocaine.

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 them to Laredo, where they 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, Texas, on Jan. 14.

Corley later allegedly arranged for 300 pounds of marijuana to be delivered to Mario Corley in Charleston and allegedly 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 5, Corley delivered two AR-15 assault rifles with scopes, an airsoft assault rifle, five ballistic vests, and other miscellaneous equipment to an undercover agent in Colorado Springs in exchange for $10,000. At the meeting, Corley and the undercover agent allegedly again discussed the contract killing and the retrieval of the cocaine, which was to occur on Saturday. Corley allegedly stated he had purchased a new Ka-Bar knife to carve a "Z" into the victim's chest and was planning on buying a hatchet to dismember the body.

Corley, Walker, and Davis traveled to Laredo on Saturday to meet with undercover agents and discuss the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill, and their respective roles. The three were arrested. Agents searched their vehicle and recovered two semi-automatic rifles with scopes, one bolt-action rifle with a scope and bipod, one hatchet, one Ka-Bar knife, one bag of .223 caliber ammunition, and one box of .300 caliber ammunition.

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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