Memphis kingpin Craig Petties was sentenced to nine life sentences plus more than 60 years on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Samuel Mays, who said Petties’ crimes were the most serious he’d ever seen. According to the Daily Mail:
Petties built a multistate drug ring that operated from 1995 to 2008. Cocaine and marijuana were shipped from Mexico to Memphis in semi -trucks, then distributed for sale in Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina.
After his 2002 indictment, Petties fled to Mexico and was placed on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most-Wanted List. His case also appeared on America’s Most Wanted in 2008. While in Mexico, Petties allegedly telephoned members of his organization to carry out murders. He pleaded guilty to ordering the deaths of Mario McNeal, Latrell Small, Mario Stewart and Marcus Turner.
Petties’ cousins, Clinton Lewis and Martin Lewis, who acted as henchmen were also sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for being enforcers in the organization. Their trial consisted of 70 witnesses and 300 pieces of evidence and was labeled as one of the biggest federal drug trials in Tennessee history. They were the only two members of the organization to go to trial. Thirty others have pleaded guilty, some receiving more than 30 years in prison.
The Daily Mail details:
The gang began as a group of teens selling drugs in the Riverside neighborhood, according to testimony. As they grew older, they sold more cocaine and marijuana and established stash houses throughout the area.
They eventually built contacts with the Beltran Leyva drug organization in Mexico, which provided the cocaine that was shipped to Memphis in semitrailers. Gang members met the trucks at area hotels and picked up the cocaine before breaking it up for distribution.
Gang members bought jewelry, multiple homes and vehicles with laundered drug profits, prosecutors said. They stole drugs from each other, organized kidnapping plots, and killed men suspected of being snitches.
In his closing statements, prosecutor David Pritchard said that Petties worked directly for Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka La Barbie, the Texas-born kingpin who violently tried to seize control of the Beltran Leyva cartel.
In a brief statement before sentencing, Petties said, “I apologize for the decisions I made in life.”