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VOL. 127 | NO. 212 | Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Petties Drug Runner Draws Eight-Year Sentence

By Bill Dries

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A professional drag racer and mechanic who used his racing trailers to run money and cocaine for the Craig Petties drug organization was sentenced Monday, Oct. 29, to eight years and one month in prison.

Bobby Cole is the first defendant indicted as part of the largest and most violent drug organization ever tried in Memphis federal court to be sentenced.

Cole, 43, was a defendant in one of eight sets of indictments in the Petties drug case. He pleaded guilty to a single count of racketeering conspiracy in a later separate criminal information. An information is when a defendant is charged and pleads guilty in the same action.

Memphis Federal Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays sentenced Cole taking into account his cooperation with federal authorities at a late stage in the investigation into the multi-state drug organization run by Craig Petties.

The organization had direct ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel of Mexico, and others in the organization including Petties have pleaded guilty to federal drug and racketeering charges that include the murders of six people.

Cole, by his own admission, got involved with the Petties drug organization in 2006, four years after Petties fled to Mexico where he ran the multi-state organization from exile. It was about two years before Petties was captured in Mexico and brought back to the U.S. by federal drug agents.

Cole drove racecars, a sport Petties and those close to him pursued as a hobby. That was how Cole became one of several sources of transportation for 20 kilos of cocaine into Memphis at a time worth an estimated $20,000 per kilo and the millions of dollars in cash made from selling the illegal drugs.

Two months before Petties was captured, federal agents raided Cole’s home in Hickory Hill as well as a garage Cole operated near Memphis International Airport.

They didn’t arrest Cole then, but they seized more than $140,000 in cash as well as a racecar Cole owned and other vehicles with an estimated value of $500,000.

Cole’s attorney filed suit to get the money back. Federal agents then began detailing their case against Cole saying he was involved in counting and handling millions of dollars at a time that was taken to Mexico from drug sales in the Memphis area as well as in surrounding states.

Mays gave Cole some credit for cooperating with authorities shortly after he was charged and agreeing to testify if necessary against others in an organization “that survived in part by terror – by killing people.” Cole was not called as a witness at the one trial in the case.

“Mr. Cole was not as culpable as some. But he was more culpable than others,” Mays added. “He was a major player.”

Mays is scheduled Friday to sentence another admitted member of the drug organization, Clarence Broady, who killed several people for the organization and admitted it during his testimony in the trial earlier this year of Martin Lewis and Clinton Lewis. The Lewises were the only two defendants charged in the case who went to trial. Both were convicted by a jury of drug conspiracy, racketeering and murder for hire charges and are awaiting sentencing.

Mays schedule also includes a sentencing hearing Wednesday that bears the case number of the Petties’ indictment. But no name is listed as the defendant to be sentenced and the hearing is sealed.

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