(Memphis) The man known as the most notorious drug dealer in Mid-South history says he’s sorry.
During his sentencing hearing today, Craig Petties apologized.
The judge asked Petties if he had anything to say before he was sentenced.
Petties turned to the small crowd in the courtroom and said, “I apologize to my family and the victims’ family for the decisions I made in my life that put me here in this situation.”
After that apology, Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays sentenced Petties to nine life sentences.
He said Petties had committed more serious crimes than anyone he’d ever sentenced.
He said he hopes today’s ruling sends a message to others.
“Obviously one life sentence speaks for itself,” said U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton III.
Petties will spend the rest of his life in prison.
There is no parole in the federal prison system.
Stanton added, “I think the court wanted to be very emphatic in his ruling to send a message.”
Judge Mays gave Petties the stiff sentence for creating the largest drug operation in Mid-South history and admitting to at least four murders.
One of the victims Petties ordered his henchmen to torture and kill was Marcus Turner.
Turner’s mother celebrated Thursday's sentencing.
Lucy Turner said, “This is my closure day. Everybody has been sentenced. I can put this behind me. I can get peace of mind with this knowing that he'll never get out anymore."
Petties grew up poor in the South Memphis Riverside neighborhood but went from rags to riches by creating a huge drug empire and ordering the murders of people in his way.
He was living like a rock star with a driver, personal trainer, chef and nanny when police caught him in Mexico in 2008.
Petties worked with a Mexican cartel and had been on the run for years.
There are reports Petties even had plastic surgery while in Mexico to help him hide.
Petties was a kingpin, calling the shots from about a thousand miles away.
His family refused to talk about his downfall after court Thursday.
Stanton congratulated his staff for the many hours of work they put into the case.
He said, “Our work is undone but this is a day that we believe justice has been served. Hopefully this sends a message that while you may get by, you won't get away with this type of conduct."
The judge did acknowledge that Petties’ guilty plea early on likely influenced others arrested in this case to also plea.
In 2009, Petties pleaded guilty to 19 charges related to his role as the ringleader of one of the largest drug trafficking organizations ever prosecuted in West Tennessee.
For his cooperation, the judge said he’d honor Petties’ request and recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Petties serve his time at a prison close to Memphis so he can visit with his wife, children and elderly mother.
Petties and the other members of his criminal racketeering enterprise conspired with cocaine traffickers in Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and elsewhere.
As part of the conspiracy, cocaine was prepared, packaged and/or stored, prior to distribution to buyers in “stash houses.”