VOL. 128 | NO. 140 | Friday, July 19, 2013
Petties Again Switches Federal Prisons
By Bill Dries
Memphis drug kingpin Craig Petties is on the move again in the federal prison system as more sealed documents involving Petties have been filed in the largest drug case ever brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
Petties moved this week to the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website inmate locator.
The move came as the federal prosecutor in the Western District of Tennessee case filed a sealed motion July 15 with U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays. The motion includes a proposed court order but no other indication of what it could involve.
“This facility is primarily designed to house holdover inmates in-transit to other facilities,” reads the admission and orientation handbook for the Oklahoma City prison. “The mission of the Federal Transfer Center is to confine, on a short-term basis, inmates who are being transported through the U.S. Marshal Service, Immigration & Naturalization Service, U.S. Parole Commission, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons transportation system.”
Since September, Petties – who is awaiting sentencing on racketeering, drug conspiracy and murder for hire – had been imprisoned at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.
When he was transferred from the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta to New York, it came as prosecutors in Memphis filed a sealed ex parte motion seeking to move him. Mays granted the motion without the order ever revealing the reason for the move.
The secrecy has been a constant of the 11-year-old case since Petties was captured in Mexico in January 2008.
Petties was indicted in 2002 in Memphis on federal drug charges that kicked off the investigation. He fled to Mexico that year and ran the multi-state drug organization with direct ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel from Mexico for six years until his capture.
Six sets of indictments following the first indictment in 2002 named 40 people including those charged, not charged or charged separately who were tied to the organization headed by Petties. Over those new sets of charges, prosecutors and federal drug agents detailed a violent drug organization whose members killed six people including members who were cooperating with federal investigators and rival drug dealers.
Prosecutors as well as defense attorneys have cited the level of violence as the reason for the abundance of sealed motions in the case.
Petties pleaded guilty to charges in the case that are expected to net him a life term in prison in late 2009 with no notice in court files of even a hearing. The guilty plea was revealed in court records more than a year later.
His last known appearance in open court was in December 2010 when he pleaded guilty to a contraband charge for having a shank hidden in a mattress in his prison cell at the Memphis Federal Correctional Institution.
He is also awaiting sentencing on that as well, according to court records.