Petties pleads guilty to racketeering, murder for hire - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Petties pleads guilty to racketeering, murder for hire, money laundering

Craig Petties Craig Petties

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Federal authorities say a Memphis man accused of operating a violent drug trafficking empire has pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy in four murders.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Memphis said Tuesday that Craig Petties pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges stemming from a 50-count indictment issued in 2002.

A news release says Petties entered his plea in December 2009, at which time the federal court ordered the plea sealed.

Petties was accused of running a multimillion dollar drug ring based in Memphis. He fled Memphis and was arrested in Mexico on Jan. 11, 2008.

From Mexico, Petties allegedly ordered the killings of rivals, suspected informants and others in Memphis.

The news release details the counts Petties pled guilty to:

- Count One, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), which carries a potential penalty of life in prison;

- Count Two, violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, specifically the murder of Mario McNeal on March 16, 2007, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Three, violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, specifically the murder of Marcus Turner on September 26, 2006, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Four, violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, specifically the kidnapping of Marcus Turner on September 19, 2006, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), which carries a potential penalty of life in prison;

- Count Five, violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, specifically the murder of Mario Stewart on March 22, 2005, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Six, violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, specifically the murder of Latrell Small on August 9, 2004, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Eleven, conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities to commit murder for hire, specifically the murder of Mario McNeal, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958(a), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Twelve, conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities to commit murder for hire, specifically the murder of Mario Stewart, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958(a), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Thirteen, conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities to commit murder for hire, specifically the murder of Latrell Small, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958(a), which carries a statutory penalty of life in prison;

- Count Fourteen, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, which carries a statutory penalty of at least ten years and no more than life in prison;

- Count Fifteen, possession with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), which carries a statutory penalty of at least ten years and no more than life in prison;

- Count Sixteen, possession with intent to distribute approximately 600 pounds of marijuana, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), which carries a statutory penalty of at least five years and no more than 40 years in prison;

- Count Seventeen, conspiracy to distribute at least 1000 kilograms of marijuana, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, which carries a statutory penalty of at least ten years and no more than life in prison;

- Count Eighteen, conspiracy to commit money laundering, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), which carries a potential penalty of twenty years in prison; and

- Counts Nineteen through Twenty-Three, each alleging a separate charge of money laundering, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), which carries a potential penalty of twenty years in prison.

(SOURCE: U.S. Attorney's Office)

Petties will be sentenced in both the plea unsealed Tuesday, as well as a separate charge of possessing a weapon while in custody at the Federal Correctional Institution in Memphis, on April 1.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this story.

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