SAN FRANCISCO – Marcus Etienne, a/k/a “Hitler,” and Mario Robinson were sentenced today to 34 and 32 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The sentences were handed down by the Honorable William Alsup, U.S. District Judge.
The sentences follow guilty pleas by both defendants. According to their plea agreements, Etienne, 39, of St. Martin Parish, La., and Robinson, 37, of Opelousas, La., and Oakland, Calif., were involved in an enterprise based in St. Martin Parish consisting of more than seven members who conducted a continuing and extensive narcotics distribution conspiracy. Etienne admitted that he was the leader of the enterprise beginning as early as 2009. The defendants both acknowledged that the enterprise engaged in narcotics distribution, assault, robbery, extortion, extortionate collection of extensions of credit, murder for hire, murder, money laundering, illegal firearms possession, gambling on dogfighting, and obstruction of justice. Robinson further admitted that in 2015, he moved from California to Louisiana and began receiving marijuana from the enterprise to distribute in Louisiana.
Etienne and Robinson admitted their respective roles in the 2016 murder of another enterprise member, Trince Thibodeaux. According to the plea agreements, Etienne ordered the murder of Thibodeaux because Etienne believed Thibodeaux had stolen money and narcotics from the enterprise. Etienne offered Robinson $5,000 to murder Thibodeaux, and Robinson accepted. Robinson then contracted with a third party to complete the murder. On March 22, 2016, Robinson lured Thibodeaux to a location in Oakland where the third party shot and killed Thibodeaux. A week later, Robinson sent a $1,250 wire transfer to the individual who shot Thibodeaux. Robinson acknowledged that he expected to remain in good standing with Etienne and the enterprise by completing the murder at Etienne’s direction.
The plea agreements describe additional activities the defendants engaged in to promote the enterprise. For example, the plea agreements describe how the enterprise purchased marijuana in California and used the United States Postal Service to ship the drugs to Louisiana and Texas. Robinson admitted he received packages containing between one and ten pounds of marijuana every one or two months. Robinson and Etienne used cash proceeds from the narcotics trafficking to purchase marijuana and other controlled substances in California. Robinson also purchased money orders in Louisiana to pay the enterprise’s marijuana suppliers in California. Both Etienne and Robinson admitted that they conducted financial transactions with proceeds of narcotics trafficking to conceal the nature, source, and ownership of the enterprise’s profits.
In addition, Etienne admitted he purchased and maintained dogs used for fighting in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, on a property owned by another member of the enterprise. At the property, Etienne and other members of the enterprise hosted dog-fighting events at which attendees would pay a cover fee and bet money on the dogfights. Dogs, including dogs owned by Etienne, were seriously injured and even killed either during the events or as a result of the training leading up to the events.
On December 18, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Etienne, Robinson, and one other individual for their respective roles in the enterprise. Both Etienne and Robinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(vii), and 846; racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h).
When discussing the reasons for sentencing Etienne and Robinson to lengthy terms of incarceration, Judge Alsup made clear that he was moved by the statements of Mr. Thibodeaux’s mother as well as the mother of Mr. Thibodeaux’s child, both of whom addressed the Court at today’s hearing.
Etienne and Robinson have been in U.S. custody and will begin serving their sentences immediately.
The United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Strike Force is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oakland Division, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Oakland Police Department, with assistance from the St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Office, and the Opelousas, Louisiana, Police Department.