Drug lord given 10 life sentences and 1,980 months in prison - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Drug lord given 10 life sentences and 1,980 months in prison

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A drug lord who pleaded guilty to multiple murders over the course of several years was sentenced to 10 life sentences plus 1,980 months in federal prison Thursday morning.

Craig Petties was arrested in Mexico in 2008 and has been in custody ever since. Prosecutors say he organized and directed a massive marijuana and cocaine operation in the Mid-South. Petties pleaded guilty at a secret hearing in 2009. At his sentencing hearing on Thursday, he offered a short apology.

"To the court, my family, the victims' families," Petties said, briefly turning to address spectators in the courtroom, "I apologize for the decisions I made in life that put me here in this situation. I'm sorry."

According to the list Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays read in court, Petties pleaded guilty to 20 different criminal charges.

"This is a very serious, serious set of crimes," said Mays. "Mr. Petties has committed more serious crimes than anyone I have sentenced. This is the most substantial criminal enterprise ever seen in this district."

"That's completely discretionary for the judge, and I think he sent a message with the multiple life sentences," said U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton. "That there will would be a deterrent effect, that we cannot permit or allow this type of conduct or criminal conduct to occur in our communities."

Prosecutors believe Petties was involved in multiple murders, more than the four to which he pleaded guilty. One victim's mother addressed the court shortly before Mays made his ruling.

"He has damaged so many lives, so many lives," said Lucy Turner, whose son, Marcus, was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by members of the Petties organization at Petties' direction. "I just ask you give Mr. Petties whatever the law allows. He can talk to his family. I can't talk to my son. And it hurts."

Turner now considers Petties' sentencing day -- her closure day.

"I feel good about it. I'm just happy," she said. "These are tears of joy."

She continued, "I can get peace ... of mind with this, knowing that he'll never get out anymore."

Marcus left behind four children. Turner has custody of his daughter, Marciea.

"I told her I was coming to federal court and she wanted to know what was going to happen," explained Turner. "And I told her this is the last one. We can bury daddy for good now."

Prosecutors say grieving family members are only a small number of those affected.

"The entire community were victims of this poison that came into community, the violent crimes and the nature of these crimes, the reprehensible conduct," added Stanton.

Forty of Petties' associates have been prosecuted and the organization was dismantled.

Turner has been at the federal building for every court battle, this one being her final visit.

"I don't have to come anymore. No more," she said.

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