|Yesterday, 01:32 PM||#1|
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Memphis drug lord fearful of Mexican cartel: "Wherever you put me, they'll kill me"
La Barbie is already getting a movie made about him, being played by Charlie Hunnam.
Does his "associate" Craig Petties deserve one too?
Petties is a half-brother of Paul Beauregard, better known as rapper DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia.
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Memphis drug lord fearful of Mexican cartel: "Wherever you put me, they'll kill me"
A gutsy decision made one spring night by a scrawny teen from South Memphis would forever alter the course of his life and many others.
Craig Petties was unremarkable.
He was short, skinny and poor, raised by a single mother. He dropped out of school, joined neighbors in the Gangster Disciples gang and got spending money from small drug sales on local street corners.
But a night in March 1995 set off a chain of events that would transform Petties into a Memphis legend, the richest and most deadly drug lord in the Bluff City's history.
On Thursday, a federal judge ordered the 36-year-old to serve nine concurrent life sentences in a federal prison, where parole is not an option.
He had accomplished a feat law enforcement had never heard of before, as a black American who earned acceptance into "the family" of a Mexican cartel. The powerful ally, which gave Petties the ability to quickly multiply his riches, ultimately would become a much feared rival.
After charming his way into the Beltran Leyva cartel, a branch of the Mexican-based Sinaloa drug dynasty, Petties relaxed on yachts, bought a $2.3 million house in Las Vegas and owned a fleet of cars, including a $339,000 Bentley. His staff included a maid, nanny, cook, personal trainer, driver and armed security detail.
But the traffickers also are known for hanging bodies from bridges and gunning down a Mexican Marine and members of his family.
When Petties was arrested in a suburban neighborhood north of Mexico City, after five years hiding under the protection of the cartel, prosecutors and police pushed him to tell them what he knew about various unsolved crimes. They offered to change his name in prison and hide his family in the federal witness protection program.
Petties balked, saying, "Wherever you put me, they'll kill me."
Known as Lil' C or Lil' Dude, Petties had bought cocaine from Colombians through the Beltran Leyva. The cartel gave him a limit ? he could only buy 500 kilograms at a time, which he could easily sell for $10 million in the States.
The aromatic bricks arrived in Mexico on submarines and barges, later heading across the Texas border on FedEx and other trucks. Sometimes the drugs were heavily wrapped and hidden in shipments, such as food headed to local grocery store chains. Other times they were stuffed in hidden compartments in the cabs of trucks. Bribes were paid to Mexican border patrol officials for safe passage.
For years, the drug ring led by Petties supplied many of his childhood friends with diamond jewelry, luxury cars and sprawling houses in suburbs east of Memphis. A number of them now are in graves or prison cells.
Petties also tried to buy his mother a house, but she remained in the small, brick shotgun house that had cost her $17,000 on crime-riddled West Dison Avenue.
Petties quickly built a fortune, giving stacks of cash totaling more than $10 million to an even richer cartel member to safeguard.
But by age 31, Petties had lost his fortune and his freedom.
Mexican military and police officers raided Petties' white stucco home in an upscale suburb 136 miles northwest of Mexico City in January 2008, as snipers crept atop neighbors' rooftops and a helicopter hovered above. Accustomed to bribing his way out of trouble, Petties spoke Spanish to his captors, offering cash.
Instead, they deported him, alerting American officials.
A team of federal investigators and prosecutors flew to Houston to see the elusive adversary they had spent many days and nights and even some of their vacation time chasing.
Once cornered, the menacing criminal who had nonchalantly ordered murders crumbled. He sobbed, sniffling and dabbing at tears with napkins.
Asked if he knew he couldn't run forever, Petties somberly replied, "I knew."
Many secrets of the birth and death of his criminal enterprise are still hidden in court filings that may remain sealed forever. Yet a picture of his life of crime has been pieced together from police records, court testimony and documents.
Over the fence
As a teen, he couldn't have foreseen how a decision to jump a fence would alter his fate.
It was March 1995 and he needed cash, more than what he could get peddling crack rocks and small packages of marijuana to area druggies.
He lived at home with his sister and mother, Ever Jean Petties.
An aging tree in her yard needed to be removed, and as Petties put it, "It was always a threat when there was lightning." So the 18 year old went looking for quick money.
His older cousin, Antonio "Big Wayne" Allen had a plan.
Federal agents had arrested a neighborhood man, at the time believed to be the main drug supplier to South Memphis, and impounded his blue Chevrolet Lumina. About $500,000 in cash was hidden inside the car, parked at a private business that contracted with the government.
A lone security guard was on duty, protecting an expansive car lot in an industrial strip five miles east of Graceland. The drug supplier was willing to pay guys from the neighborhood a cut if they could get the money before agents found it.
Allen, who was stocky, turned to Petties, who was thin and spry. Petties and one of his friends used a ladder to climb over the fence, with Allen and another one of Petties' relatives serving as lookouts. The supplier had given them a sequence of steps needed to open a hidden built-in compartment used to hide drugs or drug proceeds.
Once the group got their hands on half a million dollars, they decided to divvy it up ? double-crossing the supplier. They gambled that the man, who wasn't known to be violent, wouldn't seek revenge. They were right.
Petties' cut was supposed to be $100,000, but he only got half from his older and bigger friends. He spent some of it on tree removal for his mother. He bought his first Cadillac and invested the rest ? buying wholesale quantities of drugs.
He made a quick profit and reinvested. Within a few years, he had not only replaced the supplier ? who ended up in a federal prison ? he had eclipsed him. Petties was now the go-to guy for cocaine in much of Memphis, not just his Riverside neighborhood.
Within five years of jumping that fence, Petties had met cartel members from Mexico. They heard he could move shipments fast, so in 2000 they took him to Corpus Christi, Texas, and introduced him to their boss, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a Texas native whose high school football coached nicknamed him "La Barbie" for his good looks and pale green eyes.
Petties, then 23, hung out with the cartel members on a ranch for a week.Then they took him to Laredo, the key gateway they used to funnel drugs across the border.
Petties showed how fast he could unload 10 kilograms of cocaine to a network of associates ? mainly childhood friends from his Riverside neighborhood. This impressed La Barbie, whose godfather was one of the Beltran Leyva brothers who founded the cartel. Petties was officially in.
That unprecedented access allowed him to quickly amass a fortune, overseeing shipments destined for Memphis and several other Southern cities. He was a multimillionaire by his mid-20s.
He had learned a lesson from the docile supplier he stole from as a teen. In contrast, he built a reputation as dangerous and vengeful. Even close childhood friends and relatives weren't safe, if they stole drugs, cash or clients from him or considered talking to police. One friend said Petties developed a blood lust in Mexico, where revenge killings are commonplace in drug wars.
Petties later admitted to having a role in four murders ? including one in a crowded restaurant ? as well as ordering a man's kidnapping and torture, but officials believe his death toll is larger.
Petties insisted he didn't order the murder of his cousin, Antonio Allen, but several of his associates ? including the admitted hit man ? insisted that he did, after receiving an erroneous tip that Allen had become a government witness against him.
Flight to Mexico
Memphis police arrested Petties at his southwest Memphis home in 2001. His girlfriend, Latosha Booker, had summoned police when the two got into a domestic dispute. Officers smelled marijuana, spotted a joint smoldering on an ashtray and found three duffel bags stuffed with 600 pounds of the drug in a bedroom closet. Petties had been arrested several times before, for having a sawed-off shotgun at age 15, for selling crack a year later, and for attempted murder when he was in a group that cornered a man who was shot. As a minor in the juvenile system, he avoided prison.
But as an adult with a sizable cache of drugs, he would face a significant sentence.
That fact, coupled with a June 2002 raid on an associate's Bartlett home, spooked the drug dealer. At Tino Harris' house, police found a gun and armored vest, $50,000 in cash and 32 kilograms of cocaine in the attic with a street value of more than $900,000.
A police case that should have been easy to prosecute grew complicated when Petties fled to Mexico in 2002. There, via cellphone calls, he continued to run his trafficking organization.
For Abe Collins, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the hunt for Petties and organization members would span a decade. By 2002, Collins had learned through an informant about Petties' status as a major supplier.
He led the raid in Bartlett and secured a federal indictment against Petties a few months later.
He sought help from a task force that included deputy U.S. Marshals and Memphis police detective Therman Richardson, who went undercover wearing a grill and dreadlocks in 2005 to make drug buys from Petties' associates.
Police later intercepted drug-ring members' phone calls from jail discussing plans to kill both Richardson and Collins and describing where Collins lived. Richardson cautioned his wife and barred his school-age children from playing in the yard and walking to school.
Collins had to find Petties and woo witnesses ? including some in law enforcement ? who were scared and initially reluctant to take on Petties. They knew the risks: A Petties hit man had gunned down Petties' childhood friend, after the victim decided to leave the organization and testify for the government.
In Memphis, federal prosecutors began securing indictments that charged drug-ring members under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. RICO, which punishes individuals for crimes committed by the group, was designed to battle the Mafia, but is increasingly used to prosecute violent gangs and drug rings.
Faced with possible life sentences, several Petties associates, including many of his trusted inner circle, agreed to plea deals that meant they had to spill drug-ring secrets.
Collins and task-force members made trips to Mexico and established a rapport with law enforcement there. And Petties' image was widely broadcast when he landed on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted list in 2004. The bulletin described him as 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, and read, "CAUTION ? ARMED AND DANGEROUS," stating that Petties was wanted on a 45-count indictment.
Judgment day was nearing and Petties could feel it. He tossed out his cellphone, fearing calls were being intercepted. So this time, as Mexican police and military prepared to close in on him in January 2008, no corrupt officials on the cartel payroll tipped him off, as they had in the past.
Prosecutors and task-force members rushed to talk to the elusive opponent they spent years chasing. He was hesitant, but the team knew which carrot to dangle.
Petties' wife, Latosha Booker, and their five children were still in Mexico. The three youngest, a 10-month-old and 4-year-old twins, were born in Mexico under aliases, so Mexican officials were refusing to let Booker bring them across the border.
The task force would help if Petties talked, and he caved in.
What he revealed about his years in crime, here and abroad, is hidden in protected court records. After Petties was sentenced Thursday, U.S. Atty. Ed Stanton said those documents might never be unsealed.
So the extent to which he aided other investigations remains unclear, as does the impact of his crimes.
U.S. Dist. Court Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays summarized it this way before sending Petties to prison: "Those drugs went to destroy untold numbers of peoples lives. There's no way to calculate the damage."
Image View Removed. For more information, please contact our forum admins by clicking here.This house in the Riverview neighborhood in South Memphis was used by the Craig Petties organization, according to law enforcement. Petties grew up nearby.
|Yesterday, 02:45 PM||#3|
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He sought help from a task force that included deputy U.S. Marshals and Memphis police detective Therman Richardson, who went undercover wearing a grill and dreadlocks in 2005 to make drug buys from Petties' associates
|Yesterday, 04:07 PM||#4|
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One day Larry woke up and was like, "Damn, I need some Mexican homies. There's nothing but blacks in my circle."
And here we are today.
|Yesterday, 05:06 PM||#5|
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Damn, 9 life sentences?!!This "cat" can't survive that.
Last edited by ThatDude44; Yesterday at 05:16 PM.
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