Ex-drug lord Petties sentenced to 9 life terms - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Ex-drug lord Petties sentenced to 9 life terms

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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Notorious drug lord Craig Petties was sentenced Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Memphis to nine life terms, over $19 million in fines, and $33,000 in restitution.

Federal Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays, Jr., slapped the 36-year old Petties with nine life sentences and no chance of  parole as the result of the ex-drug lord pleading guilty to 17 charges of murder, drug trafficking and racketeering in 2009.

Petties' sentencing was the final act in the prosecution of 40 people who once composed his drug empire.

MORE: Craig Petties timeline (myFOXMemphis.com archive)

"This organization absolutely is certainly the largest of its kind, not only here in West Tennessee, but the largest prosecution successfully completed throughout the whole State of Tennessee," said Edward Stanton III, Western District U.S. Attorney.

Petties plead guilty to 17 counts, which include four counts of murder, money laundering, and multiple counts of drug trafficking. He requested to be sent to prison near Memphis, however Judge Mays said he could not make that recommendation due to security concerns.

Thursday morning figured to be the last ride into Memphis the convicted murderer and former drug kingpin would ever take. Though some of the families of his countless victims might have wished that trip had been made in another type of vehicle.

"I think he realized now, but, there's nothing he can do about it," said Lucy Turner, mother of one of Petties' murder victims. "He can't .... he can't just get out and hurt anybody else."

Thursday morning figured to be the last ride into Memphis the convicted murderer and former drug kingpin
would ever take. Though some of the families of his countless victims might have wished that trip had been made in another type of vehicle.

"I think he realized now, but, there's nothing he can do about it," said Lucy Turner, mother of one of Petties' murder victims. "He can't .... he can't just get out and hurt anybody else."

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In a 40-minute sentencing hearing, Judge Mays legally wrote the final chapter for the 36-year-old Memphian providing a verbal epitaph in declaring Petties' record of heinous crimes was the "most terrible criminal conduct he'd ever seen in his years on the bench."

"I think it speaks volumes when you look at not only the amount of drugs contracted internationally into this area and throughout the Southeast," Stanton said.

In his only statement before hearing his sentence, Petties briefly apologized to his family for the decision he made to wage a criminal life. He was hoping for leniency since he pleaded guilty in 2009 to 17 charges, including four murders, murder for hire,  kidnapping, racketeering, money laundering and distribution of cocaine and marijuana.

Petties built a multi-state drug ring that operated from 1995 to 2008. Cocaine and marijuana were shipped from Mexico to Memphis in semi-trucks, then distributed for sale throughout the South.

Petties fled to Mexico after his 2002 indictment. He was placed on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most-Wanted List before his capture in January 2008.

In his only statement before hearing his sentence, Petties briefly apologized to his family for the decision he made to wage a criminal life. He was hoping for leniency since he pleaded guilty in 2009 to 17 charges, including four murders, murder for hire,  kidnapping, racketeering, money laundering and distribution of cocaine and marijuana.

However, in noting Petties' acceptance of his guilt, Judge Mays said he felt compelled to "discourage" others who might want to follow in Petties' footsteps. Judge Mays used the full weight of the law in sentencing Petties to the equivalent of nine life sentences and a few months extra to run concurrently with no chance of parole.

He charged him with more than $19 million in fines and $33,000 in restitution payments to the families of victims like Turner, mother of Petties' murder for hire victim Marcus Turner.

"This has been painful for me," she said. "I'm Marcus' mom. You don't think of burying your child. You think of your child burying you."

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