Seven men, including three from South Carolina, face charges in connection with a bizarre murder-for-hire plot that included current and former military personnel who believed they were aiding a drug cartel.

Federal officials on Friday announced a five-count indictment against those men: 23-year-old Robert Corley of Columbia, S.C.; 26-year-old Calvin Epps and 20-year-old Marcus Mickle of Hopkins; 29-year-old Kevin Corley and Samuel Walker of Colorado Springs,Colo.; 29-year-old Shavar Davisof Denver;and 40-year-old Mario Corley of Saginaw, Texas.

The indictment alleges that the men, except Robert Corley, conspired to commit murder for hire in exchange for $50,000 in cash and five kilograms of cocaine. They made their deal in southern Texas but planned to pick up 300 pounds of marijuana in Summerville at the Pilot gas station just off Interstate 26, court filings say.

The alleged scheme ended with five arrests and one dead body.

Agents first began investigating the group they called the Kevin Corley Drug Trafficking Organization in January afterMickle began negotiations with men he believed were members of the Zetas, according to federal prosecutors. The cartel members, actually undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents, agreed to trade stolen weapons for marijuana, prosecutors said. Mickle and Eppstold the undercover agents about a friend in the military who could get weapons, according to prosecutors. The agents later met Kevin Corley, who identified himself as an Army officer who trained soldiers. Corley, an Irmo native, played football at S.C. State University before his Army career. He mailed an Army tactics book to the undercover agents posing as Zetas, according to prosecutors, and promised to train 40 members of the cartel in two weeks. Corley traveled to Laredo, Texas, where undercover agents asked him about murder-for-hire work, prosecutors said, and a raid at a ranch where rival cartel members had stashed 20 kilograms of cocaine. Corley agreed to take the job at a cost of $50,000 and 5 kilograms of cocaine, according to prosecutors. Officials said Corley guaranteed a refund if the target survived.Agents moved to arrest the men at the meeting in Texas, and one of them shot Corley’s cousin, Jerome Corley, multiple times in the process, according to a complaint. Jerome Corley arrived at a nearby hospital already dead from his wounds.Read more in Tuesday’s editions of The Post and Courier.

Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.