March 31, 2012. Laredo, TX. Exactly one week ago, US DEA agents were forced into a running gun battle with a squad of killers for hire in Laredo, Texas. It is there that current and former US military personnel were in the process of making what was reported as their third illegal transaction with undercover DEA agents. The mercenaries had travelled from as far away as South Carolina and Colorado to meet in the Mexican border town with what they thought were members of the Zetas, the notorious Mexican drug cartel. When the smoke cleared, one mercenary was killed. Now, a whole lot of questions are being asked.
Lt. Corely and Sgt. Walker of the US Army, busted in DEA sting thinking they were working for a Mexican drug cartel.
According to the account from MySanAntonio.com, federal prosecutors are calling the incident a DEA sting operation gone wrong. The details come from the criminal complaint filed in federal court this week. While the militant group thought it had been working for the Zetas since January 2011, they had actually been working for the DEA and FBI the entire time. How a typical evidence-gathering transaction turned into a deadly shootout with a heavily armed member of the US Army and another Army veteran, federal authorities refuse to disclose.
January 2011 – pot head gets stung
The story actually begins 14 months ago when another target of a federal sting operation, Marcus Mickle, age 20, from South Carolina thought he was buying marijuana from US-based drug dealers working for the Mexican drug cartel, the Zetas. Looking back, something seems amiss. Reporters from this publication are already asking their first question – why is a giant federal agency like the DEA selling marijuana to teenage and 20 year-old, poor kids in South Carolina?
According to the details in the MySanAntonio.com report, unbeknownst to Mickle, he was now making drug deals with the DEA and soon involved his friend, Calvin Epps, 26, also living in South Carolina. In September 2011, nine months after federal authorities began carrying out illegal transactions between the two unsuspecting men and their undercover agents posing as Zetas cartel members, authorities stumbled onto 29 year-old Kevin Corley. Corley was present at the gun battle last week that resulted in the death of his cousin, Jerome Corley.
Apparently fishing for anyone willing to commit a crime, the federal agents laid a trap for Epps and Mickle, suggesting that as Zetas, they were looking for men willing to do “wet work”. According to the documents filed in federal court, that wet work included murder, robbing drug traffickers, and arming and training both Mexican and US Zetas cartel members. One man Epps and Mickle knew that could, and possibly would, be willing to go to work for the Zetas was Kevin Corley.
At the time, September of last year, Kevin Corley was a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army and a veteran of the Afghanistan war. It was then that Epps and Mickle put the undercover federal agents in touch with Corley. Together with another US Army soldier, 28 year-old Sergeant Samuel Walker from Colorado Springs, CO, the men began providing US Army training manuals, AR-15 assault rifles, and ballistic vests. Epps went so far as to insist he could deliver hand grenades, all compliments of the US Army. Corley even offered to train the entire Zetas army in two weeks.
One question that federal authorities haven’t elaborated on is, how did a typical marijuana sale to a 20 year-old Marcus Mickle in South Carolina morph into two domestic terrorist cells made up of active duty US military personnel? Were these men mercenaries for hire, shopping their deadly training and weaponry around to Libya, Iran, Russia, China and the Mexican drug cartels? Were they working for the international terror group making the highest offer for their talents and stolen arms, as the charges suggest? Or did federal authorities create terror cells where none would have ever been without the undercover federal agents?
Buying marijuana from an undercover DEA agent was probably a good indicator of how criminally savvy this group was. According to the federal complaint, the four-man crew didn’t have any better luck when they began smuggling marijuana from Mexico into the US for the undercover DEA agents. While escorting a tractor trailer truck loaded with marijuana on January 14, 2012, it was stopped by local police in La Salle county Texas.
March 2012 – talk turns into action
For six months, the Epps/Corley crew helped smuggle Mexican marijuana into the US, while at the same time selling military equipment and arms back to the agents posing as cartel members. It was those illegal transactions that fueled the sting from September 2011 through March 13, only two weeks ago. On that day, Kevin Corley was discharged from the Army and was now going to work for the Zetas as an active assassin, or so he thought. Instead of simply selling stolen US Army weaponry and other equipment, Corley began doing the “wet work” he’d always talked about.
An account from Wired.com quotes the federal complaint. ‘“Kevin Corley thoroughly explained military tactics and told undercover agents he could train 40 cartel members in two weeks,” the complaint alleges. Authorities added that Corley “had already discussed this opportunity with several experienced soldiers in his platoon who expressed interest in working with the cartel.” The complaint also says Corley claimed to have two teams prepared: one to help train cartel gunmen and another to carry out ‘wet work’ — assassinations.’
One week later, and just after noon last Saturday, the crew led by Kevin Corley arrived in Laredo, Texas from the US Army base in Colorado. Their instructions were to go to a warehouse in Laredo and meet with members of the Zetas. It would be at that time and place that the Zetas would give the final details to the US military crew concerning their assignment. According to federal documents, all Corley and his men knew was that 20 kilograms of cocaine had been stolen from the Zetas. Corley’s crew was told they would raid the ranch where the stolen cocaine was being hidden, get the drugs back and kill the man or men who stole it from the Zetas.
The crew Kevin Corley brought with him that day included Sgt. Samuel Walker, 29 year-old Shavar Davis, and Corley’s cousin Jerome Corley. It was Jerome Corley that was killed by federal agents during the shootout. The account from MySanAntonio.com makes the scene sound less than organized. The report describes the four-man crew arriving at the specified ranch to meet what they thought were representative of the Zetas who were going to give them final instructions for their hit. Instead, when the men arrived at the ranch, the DEA agents retreated and FBI agents moved in for the arrest. It was at that instant that the firefight broke out between two heavily armed groups of trained killers.
The local report from San Antonio closes with a twist. It describes the statements the three surviving members of the mercenary squad gave to authorities after their arrest Saturday. While Davis and Walker admitted to their assigned tasks for the hit, Corley freely admitted to something that took authorities by surprise. Corley confessed that his plan all along was to kill the cocaine thief and then stand-up the Zetas and their $50,000 paycheck, opting instead to make off with the 20 kilograms of cocaine.
If Corley’s admission is true, then the DEA may have been close to putting millions of dollars worth of cocaine onto the streets of America. Although, it would have been kept company by the thousands of military assault rifles the ATF supplied the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, and then mysteriously lost track of. Read the Whiteout Press article about that notorious government operation called Fast & Furious, ‘Murdered Border Patrolman’s Family wants Justice’. For additional thought-provoking discussion on the topic of Mexican drug cartels, read the commentary, ‘War with Mexico?’.