Alleged Killer Cousins on Trial -- Anonymous Jury to Hear Trafficking, Murder Case

By Warren, Beth | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), February 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Alleged Killer Cousins on Trial -- Anonymous Jury to Hear Trafficking, Murder Case


Warren, Beth, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


Jury selection is set to begin today in the federal trial of two alleged hit men from one of the largest drug-trafficking rings in Memphis' history, with ties to a deadly Mexican cartel.

For their protection, jurors will be escorted each morning by armed U.S. Marshals from a secret location to federal court, as directed in a Jan. 26 court order by U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr.

Jurors will be known by numbers displayed across their chests, their identities shielded during the trial of cousins Clinton "Goldie" Lewis and Martin "M" Lewis, alleged associates of admitted drug kingpin Craig Petties.

In a search warrant affidavit years ago, a federal agent referred to Petties as "the primary supplier of cocaine and marijuana in the Memphis area."

The Memphis native, whose legacy of crime began in his youth, eventually became a high-level broker for a powerful and lucrative Mexican cartel known for bribery and murder.

The trial of the Lewises is expected to last four to six weeks, with about 100 government witnesses - including Petties - ready to testify.

It will be the first time Petties has publicly revealed details of his criminal enterprise and his links to the Mexican cartel.

Now 35, Petties fled the U.S. after he and several others were caught with a large amount of marijuana inside a Memphis home in 2001.

Mexico's former attorney general has said Petties lived in Mexico with the support of the Beltran Leyva organization, which would later break away from the larger Sinaloa cartel.

Officials say Petties used cellphones to continue running his drug organization in Memphis and to deliver drugs to other states.

Mexican authorities caught the American fugitive - on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted list - in the city of Queretaro in January 2008. The military raid in a quiet neighborhood made front-page news there, and Petties was quickly deported to the U.S.

Petties and the Lewis cousins were among nine defendants named in a 61-page federal indictment in 2008, with charges including conspiracy to commit murder for hire, money laundering, cocaine and marijuana distribution and violent crime in aid of racketeering .

The criminal enterprise is accused of hauling large amounts of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the U. …

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