Indictment alleges murderous pot-smuggling ring
Four people, including a Louisiana couple previously accused of marijuana smuggling, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on charges including murder, racketeering and conspiracy.
Three of the four defendants are accused of the murder in aid of racketeering of Trince Thibodeaux, 26, of Los Gatos, who was gunned down in East Oakland on the night of March 22, 2016.
Those defendants are Marcus Etienne, of Opelousas, La., alleged in the indictment to have been the leader of an interstate drug and racketeering ring; Craig Marshall of Houston and Mario Robinson of Oakland.
Etienne and his wife, Elizabeth Gobert, also of Opelousas, are additionally charged with conspiring to murder Robinson in May of this year.
At the time, Etienne was in federal custody in connection with the previously filed marijuana charges and Gobert was free on bail.
The indictment expands on an earlier indictment issued in February in which Etienne and Gobert were charged with conspiring to distribute more than 220 pounds of marijuana.
They were alleged to have smuggled marijuana from Humboldt County and the San Francisco Bay Area to the vicinity of Lafayette in southwestern Louisiana in 2015 and 2016. Opelousas is a small town near Lafayette.
The revised indictment adds Robinson and Marshall to the marijuana conspiracy count and sets forth additional charges. All four defendants are accused of conspiring to racketeer, or participate in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Etienne, Marshall and Robinson are also accused of using a firearm in a murder.
Several of the charges carry a sentence of up to life in prison upon conviction and the charge of murder in aid of racketeering carries a mandatory life sentence.
In a filing seeking to have Etienne held without bail in February, prosecutors alleged that Thibodeaux was a co-conspirator in the marijuana ring.
The revised indictment was filed under seal on Aug. 3 and was unsealed after Robinson and Gobert were arrested in Louisiana on Aug. 4 and Aug. 6 and Marshall was taken into custody in Houston on Aug. 7.
They are expected to be transferred to San Francisco to face the charges together with Etienne, who remains in custody. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup.
The indictment alleges Etienne was also known within the ring by the name “Hitler.” At a hearing in February, his defense attorney said that unless there is a relevant explanation, it would be unfair to use that term for his client.