MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The West Tennessee U.S. Attorney General says it's about time the feds are able to close the book on Craig Petties and his drug organization.
Two of Petties' hit men were convicted last week for their part in the operation; it was the largest prosecution of its kind in West Tennessee history. U. S. Attorney Edward Stanton says it sets an important example across the Mid-South.
"Hopefully this sends a message to those who seek ill will, seek to traffic drugs and poison our streets and community," Stanton said. "At some point the results will be what we saw last week."
Police, investigators and lawyers spent nearly a decade building their case against Craig Petties' organization.
After seven weeks in trial, more than 300 exhibits and 70 witnesses, it took the anonymous jury only five hours to convict cousins Martin and Clinton Lewis for their involvement in Craig Petties' violent and deadly cross-country drug ring.
"It's a testament to law enforcement on a state, local and federal level and outstanding prosecutors that played part. It brings a justice to the victims and the victim's families in this case."
Government lawyers linked six murders to the Petties organization, and the murder of Mario McNeal directly at the hands of Martin Lewis.
Whether it's a massive drug ring or individual dealer, Stanton says the district is looking for smart ways to fight crime early on and to keep operations like Petties' from ever setting up shop again.
"We will not ever be able to prosecute our way out of the criminal element and violent crime in this community."
The Lewises will spend life in federal prison. As for their boss Craig Petties, he'll be sentenced in the middle of June.