MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - He was the biggest drug lord in Memphis, now he's set to appear in one of the largest Federal drug trials in West Tennessee history.
Clinton Lewis and Martin Lewis go on trial, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, and Craig Petties will testify against them. The men are accused of being hit men in Petties' drug operation.
Security will be heightened around the Federal building in downtown Memphis; jurors will also be under protection. The US Marshal Service will transport them from a secure location in Jackson, Tennessee to and from court daily. The only people who know the names of the jurors are the lawyers.
Dr. KB Turner, a criminal justice professor at the University of Memphis, said, "The system's taken the correct steps to make certain they are safe. A case involving individuals who have gotten involved in the kinds of crimes that they're on trial for, deserves a great deal of extra protection and attention."
As one of the largest federal drug trials ever in Memphis, Dr. Turner said this trial could make history. "It was very serious. I'm very glad that arrests have been made and that those who are allegedly involved in this are now going to court."
Martin and Clinton Lewis are accused of being the primary hit men for Petties' massive drug ring that operated from 1999 to 2008. After a five year manhunt, the government caught Petties in Mexico. Federal drug agents say the notorious drug lord and his organization were convicted, all but the Lewis' pleaded guilty.
In an unexpected twist, Craig Petties is on the witness list for the prosecution; he is expected to testify against the men he hired. Martin and Clinton Lewis face federal charges of racketeering, money laundering, drug distribution, kidnapping and murder.
The Lewis' will not be restrained during the trial. The prosecution plans to give the jury a detailed look at the violent drug ring that operated for 13 years. Federal prosecutors are connecting both defendants to the murders of six suspected informants in Memphis.
The trial is expected to last about four weeks.