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VOL. 128 | NO. 1 | Wednesday, January 02, 2013

More Sentences Expected for Petties Drug Case in 2013

By Bill Dries

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Five years after Memphis drug kingpin Craig Petties was captured in Mexico, the federal court drug case that bears his name is still moving through the courts of the Western District of Tennessee.

A co-defendant who fled from Memphis to Mexico with Petties in 2002 is now in custody in the U.S.

Chris Hamlet is due in Memphis federal court as Petties and other codefendants are about to be sentenced – most of them, including Petties, after they pleaded guilty to charges that include murder for hire, racketeering conspiracy and drug conspiracy.

By the time the case with a cast of over 40 characters, indicted and unindicted, went to trial in early 2012, the shifting cast of nine defendants through a set of seven indictments came down to two who did not plead guilty.

Martin Lewis and Clinton Lewis were convicted by a federal court jury of killing several people for the organization and being part of the multi-state drug organization.

The jury in the case also got a detailed look at an organization that grew from children running rocks of crack cocaine to lines of cars in their Riverview neighborhood to an organization that had direct ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico.

Leaders of the part of the splintered cartel that supplied tons of drugs via tractor trailer rigs and took in millions of dollars in a single day from Petties’ organization testified that the cartel bosses sought out Petties and those around him.

They brought Petties and those around him to Acapulco to meet with them.

“No one wants to go first,” is a phrase used by several of the defense attorneys representing those in the organization who pleaded guilty and testified at the trial of the Lewises.

Co-defendant Bobby Cole, a higher-up in the Memphis end of the organization in the last two years before Petties’ capture, ended up being the first and so far the only one of those in the final version of the indictment to be sentenced.

Cole, who met Petties and others in the organization through their interest in drag racing and high performance cars, was sentenced on October by Memphis Federal Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays to eight years and one month in prison.

Cole was not among those who testified in the trial of the Lewises.

But Cole was prepared to and his willingness to was a factor in his sentencing.

“This was an extremely violent organization where you don’t have to speculate about what might happen to someone who cooperated,” Mays said at the sentencing. “I do think the risk factor here takes it out of the ordinary.”

The trial featured gruesome crime scene photographs of the six victims murdered as part of a pattern by the organization that included killing those even suspected of cooperating with federal and local authorities.

The next defendant in the case to be sentenced is expected to be Clarence Broady at a hearing scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 3.

Broady testified at the trial of killing two men in 2004, one of whom was believed to have robbed and shot and wounded a member of the Petties organization in a drug robbery.

Broady, who had also robbed drug dealers in the past, testified in a monotone delivery of how he called Latrell Small and arranged a meeting in the parking lot of a Hickory Hill apartment complex. Small and a friend, Kalonji Griffin, parked outside an apartment building where Broady told them a drug dealer who was their next target lived.

When Broady showed up he got in the back seat of Small’s car, pulled two guns and shot each of them in the head at the same time from the back seat and then shot each of them once more.

When the first police officer to arrive found Small and Griffin, one of them was still alive and both were still clutching their guns.

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