NOM DE GANJA
Feds: ‘Hitler’ Ran Weed Trafficking Ring Out of a Daycare
A felon with an unfortunate nickname is accused of running a multi-state marijuana ring and bumping off his associates—and love drama may have led to his downfall.
Did Hitler’s wife turn him in?
A Louisiana felon—allegedly nicknamed after the Nazi fascist—ran a violent marijuana trafficking ring from his mother-in-law’s daycare facility and ordered hit jobs on his own allies, federal prosecutors say.
Marcus Etienne, 35, and his alleged co-conspirators are charged with murder, racketeering, and conspiracy in a multi-state drug operation that allegedly led to one confidant’s slaying on a street corner in Oakland, California.
Authorities say Etienne helmed his weed operation under the nom de guerre “Hitler” and with the help of his wife, Elizabeth Gobert, who is also charged.
Earlier this month, a federal jury indicted the couple, along with Craig Marshall of Houston, Texas, and Mario Robinson of Oakland. The ring, referred to as the Etienne Enterprise, allegedly distributed California pot to Louisiana and Texas.
A superseding indictment, filed Aug. 3 in California, accused the Etienne Enterprise of engaging in crimes including narcotics distribution, assault, robbery, extortion, murder, murder for hire, and money laundering.
“Etienne Enterprise members committed and threatened to commit acts of violence to maintain and enhance membership and to enforce discipline,” court papers allege. This included “violence against individuals who owed money to the enterprise, rival narcotics dealers, and members and associates who were perceived to have violated the rules of the enterprise,” the indictment says.
Etienne, Marshall, and Robinson are charged with murdering one of their own alleged traffickers, Trince Thibodeaux, in March 2016.
Meanwhile, Etienne and Gobert are facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder in the aid of racketeering—for an alleged plot to bump off Robinson.
Darryl Stallworth, an attorney for Etienne, told The Daily Beast that he’s “suspicious” of the federal indictment and said it sounds “a bit overdramatic.”
“I think there is more smoke than there is fire,” Stallworth said, adding that he hasn’t received discovery information and cannot fully comment on the allegations.
When asked about Etienne’s alleged Third Reich moniker, Stallworth said he didn’t know where the feds got it. “There’s nothing about him in any way, shape or form… that suggests that he’s trying to emulate Hitler,” the attorney said. “I said in an earlier article that I don’t know if he knows much about Hitler.”
“It’s an odd name for an African-American from the Deep South of Louisiana,” Stallworth told The Daily Beast, adding that it’s “not a self-titled name.”
Gobert’s attorney did not return messages seeking comment, and it’s unclear if Marshall and Robinson have obtained counsel.
As cops began circling the couple, Gobert sent text messages threatening to call the feds and demanding Etienne sign divorce papers, court filings show.
“If u wanna meet up and talk later about what’s our next move with the divorce we can. I fear for my life with u in the house,” Gobert allegedly wrote on Nov. 19, 2016.
Days later, Gobert’s phone sent another message suggesting her hubby was having an affair: “I’m not mad you want me to play side wife, so side wife is what it is.”
On Nov. 29, Gobert added, “… I never thought in my life u would put another woman before me, but u did. You pillow talked, stay with her in California and never once thought about how bad and hurt I was.”
The fusillade of texts grew more frustrated.
“Pay back coming soon, u gonna be so so sad when I finish with u. Now u ain’t gotta worry about hearing from me ever again,” a text message sent by Gobert’s phone wrote Dec. 1.
But Etienne’s replies were sparse. “U Ask me 2 leave please and I did,” he wrote.
“Check my Instagram and see if I really care now,” Gobert later added. “The feds calling u and when u get there I won’t be there for u enjoy your last couple of free days lmao.
“You should of watch what kind of bitch u married now I really done,” she continued, adding that her next beau “won’t be a low down dope dealer.”
Later that afternoon, Gobert warned she was “on my way to the police station” to report “how ya’ll [sic] harassing me” and that she had the texts to prove it.
After Etienne failed to respond, his wife wrote, “Ya’ll must be leaving for ya’ll drug trip, but don’t worry I’ll get in touch with dustin and this time it’s real.” (Dustin, according to court papers, is a Louisiana state police sergeant and former DEA task force officer.)
“Well, Dustin just called me back he’s out of town but he is having someone else call me. Have fun in the feds,” another message said.
On Dec. 16, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California filed a complaint against Etienne and Gobert for marijuana trafficking. At the time, the twosome was only under investigation for Thibodeaux’s murder.
Alongside the complaint, an affidavit from a special agent with the FBI detailed the text messages between the quarreling spouses.
The affidavit also opened a window into the alleged traffickers’ world.
Beginning of the End
According to the feds, the husband-and-wife duo conspired to distribute dope from August 2015 through at least May 2016. Authorities believe they trafficked more than 220 pounds of marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service.
It appears cops caught onto the couple—who lived in Lafayette and Opelousas, Louisiana—after they were found with bundles of cash at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport in January 2016.
Two plainclothes police officers approached them after receiving intel on “suspicious flight itineraries” from Lafayette, Louisiana, to San Francisco, with a connecting flight in Houston, the affidavit alleges.
One narcotics officer asked Etienne if he had any drugs or large sums of money on him, court papers allege. Etienne allegedly replied no and allowed the cop to search his bag, which contained wads of cash.
When the cop asked him to come to a terminal police station, Etienne allegedly blurted, “Just take the money, all the money. I just want to get on the plane.”
Another officer questioned Gobert about her luggage. Gobert said Etienne stashed his cash inside her purse but she didn’t know how much, the affidavit states. The wife allegedly explained they planned to buy a car with the bills, but seemed confused and unable to answer further questions.
“Yes, just take the whole thing, it’s not mine and I want to leave,” Gobert allegedly told police. The officer asked Gobert if she wanted a receipt, but she said no. Gobert said it wasn’t her money and walked away.
Houston cops confiscated the cash—a total of $23,923—and the couple boarded their flight, the affidavit says.
Two months later, an associate of the couple was shot and killed. Trince Thibodeaux, 28, of Los Gatos, California, was gunned down outside an Oakland liquor store on March 22, 2016. He died at the hospital.
Thibodeaux was with three other people at the time of his murder, according to area surveillance footage reviewed by the FBI and Oakland police. The gunman bent over Thibodeaux before fleeing, court papers state.
As tips started coming in, authorities learned this was apparently no random act.
According to the affidavit, the mother of Thibodeaux’s child told cops that he was involved in a narcotics conspiracy that involved buying weed in Northern California and selling it in Louisiana. She named Rodney Savoy as one of his associates.
Soon after, an informant told the DEA that he or she met with Thibodeaux two days before his death and noticed a bottle of codeine in the cup holder of his car. The cough medicine was prescribed to Marcus Etienne.
This informant also provided the California tag number of the white Toyota Camry that Thibodeaux was driving. Records revealed it was a rental car, checked out in Gobert’s name. The sedan was picked up in Oakland on March 16 and returned in San Francisco on March 21—one day before Thibodeaux’s murder.
Oakland police would soon question Rodney Savoy, who was hesitant to speak but described “Marcus” as the “shot caller” of the drug ring. “Mario” was the organization’s enforcer, Savoy added, court papers allege.
Savoy told cops that he grew up with Etienne, who on March 30 called him and perhaps tried to clear himself of any suspicion. Etienne allegedly told Savoy he flew to California with Thibodeaux but returned prior to the killing.
Etienne allegedly said he was willing to show Savoy his tickets to prove he wasn’t in California during the reported rubout.
Five months after Thibodeaux was killed, Savoy was shot to death in a trailer park near Opelousas. (Two men have been arrested in connection to Savoy’s murder but it is unclear if they are linked to the drug trafficking ring.)
According to the complaint, FBI agents traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana, on the week of Aug. 1, 2016, to meet with law enforcement concerning the trafficking probe. Savoy, a father of five, was murdered on Aug. 9.
Savoy told police that he believed Etienne ordered Thibodeaux’s murder, a memorandum filed by the U.S. attorney’s office said.
When authorities questioned Etienne about Savoy’s homicide, he allegedly admitted that Savoy owed him money when he was killed.
The murder weapon hasn’t been recovered in either homicide, federal prosecutors said.
“This is no ordinary marijuana conspiracy case. As the complaint describes, it is a multi-district marijuana conspiracy that resulted in the murders of two of the defendant’s co-conspirators,” U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch wrote in a memorandum.
Stretch’s memorandum argued that Etienne should be detained as a flight risk, instead of being placed in a halfway house. Etienne’s conviction history includes committing battery on a police officer; multiple violations of probation; and felony convictions for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, Stretch said.
“This man is being investigated for two homicides,” Stretch wrote. “The government does not believe that he is finished.”
In May of 2016, narcotics agents with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office stopped Etienne for a traffic violation on I-49. They discovered several discrepancies with Etienne’s travel plans, court records state.
Gobert, who was riding with Etienne and had a stash of cash under her thigh, was unable to produce documentation for their vehicle. She said the $1,000 police found “is to pay for my dog,” the complaint says.
She told cops they were coming from her mother’s business, Fran’s Daycare, in Opelousas and headed to Youngsville to buy a narcotics detection and protection dog. (In his affidavit, the FBI agent said Etienne and Gobert “operated the conspiracy, in part, out of a residence which is attached to a licensed state of Louisiana children’s day care facility.”)
As Gobert stepped out of the vehicle, police confiscated a substance from the floorboard—later identified as Promethazine cough syrup. Cops also seized a USPS mail receipt from Gobert’s purse that was later tied to a shipment of six packages totaling 47 pounds of weed, court papers allege.
Agents read Etienne his Miranda rights, and he granted them consent to search his car. “Man I’m giving you a hundred percent to search it,” Etienne allegedly said. “Y’all can strip search it and take it anywhere y’all want with it, it’s not mine.”
The officers discovered $9,000 in cash, wrapped in a rubber band inside Gobert’s purse. When later questioned on their professions, Etienne and Gobert stated, “We do not have a job or work.”
But at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Etienne allegedly said the cash came from illegal sales of hydroponic marijuana, and that he’d just returned from Los Angeles to facilitate a transaction with the drug.
During a police interview, Etienne “referenced the Thibodeaux homicide” but claimed he wasn’t in California at the time of the murder, court documents state.
Thibodeaux and Savoy were working for “some guy in Oakland” who was trafficking marijuana, and some of this pot was “caught” in the mail, Etienne allegedly told cops. Etienne said he provided Thibodeaux and Savoy with marijuana after police intercepted the packages, court papers say.
Etienne told cops he gets his dope from “white people” in Humboldt County, California, and that he has it sent to Louisiana once or twice a month. Savoy and Thibodeaux mailed it from the Golden State, the complaint says.
After he found out Thibodeaux was killed, Etienne provided the man’s family with money, or so he allegedly told cops.
For her part, Gobert told police she was aware of Etienne’s alleged marijuana dealing before their marriage. She said she has held drug money for Etienne, mostly between $15,000 and $20,000 on two or three occasions, court papers say.
A search warrant unearthed text messages on cellphones found on Etienne and Gobert, signaling the beginning of the end of their romance—and presumably their alleged drug trafficking operation.
Police found one phone on Gobert, and the device revealed a series of text messages sent to her husband in January 2016.
“Marcus trust you don’t want none of this.. you push me to my limits today,” one text message read. “You used me for your drug trip… today is the day I will show you.”