News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2008

Fugitive Craig Petties ( U.S. Marshals Top 15 List) Arrested in Mexico
Defendant Featured on America’s Most Wanted TV Show

JAN 16 -- Memphis, TN - Fugitive and former Memphis resident Craig Petties (age 31) was arrested in Mexico on January 11, 2008.  Petties is currently under indictment for violations of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana), 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) (1) (possession of cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute) and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 and 1957 (money laundering).  Petties was added to the U.S. Marshals Top 15 List of Most Wanted Fugitives in August 2004, and his case was featured on the “America’s Most Wanted” TV show.  This announcement was made today by David Kustoff, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, and David G. Jolley, United States Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee.

Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented of Petties’ capture, Today is indeed a well-deserved victory for the dedicated men and women who were committed to capturing this dangerous individual. The assistance provided by the Mexican authorities proved to be crucial in his apprehension. This sends a clear message to other fugitives who have escaped our justice system, in that your days are numbered and you too will eventually be brought to justice.”

Petties was arrested with a female companion and three other individuals, and several firearms were seized.  The arrest was accomplished by the Mexican Government which has been working in coordination with the DEA and the Marshals Service.  Petties is currently incarcerated in Mexico pending the disposition of a request to return him to the United States for prosecution.

Petties was originally indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Tennessee in 2002 (Case No. 02-20449).  Since then, particularly in 2007, the case has been significantly expanded.  The indictment in Case No. 02-20449 was superseded in November 2007.  The following defendants were charged (along with Petties) with conspiring to distribute cocaine in violation of  21 U.S.C. § 846:  Vacha Vaughn (aka V-Dog), Demetrious Fields (aka Meat), Clarence Broady (aka Killer), Ricky Evans (aka Big Rick), Marcus Brandon (aka White Boy), Clinton Lewis (aka Goldie), Fermando Johnson and Carlos Whitelow (aka Lizard).  The conspiracy count alleged, among other things, that the conspirators negotiated with other cocaine traffickers in Mexico, Texas, Mississippi and Memphis for the purchases of large quantities of cocaine, that they managed and organized the delivery of various quantities of cocaine from Texas into the Western District of Tennessee, and that they attempted to kill other persons to facilitate continued drug trafficking and to prevent others from cooperating with law enforcement authorities. 

The superseding indictment included three counts charging Demetrious Fields and Orlando Mays with conspiring to use a facility in interstate commerce (a cellular telephone) with the intent that the murders of Vacha Vaughn, Greg Jones (aka Grego) and Marcus Howell (aka Head) be committed as consideration for the receipt of money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958(a).  Orlando Mays was also charged with possessing a firearm after a prior felony conviction in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).

All of the defendants indicted in Case No. 02-20449 have now been arrested.  This investigation has also led to seizures totaling approximately $2,962,046, including $633,577 in cash and 40 vehicles.  During an operation on November 23, 2007, (discussed below), the agents seized $209,150 in cash and 17 vehicles.

In addition, other indictments have been returned as part of this investigation, and several arrests were made in November 2007.  For instance, Fermando Johnson, of Southaven, Mississippi, (charged with Petties and others in  Case No. 02-20449)  was arrested on November 23, 2007.  In connection with that arrest, Kimberly Washington was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after she fired shots at officers executing the arrest and search warrants. Ricky Evans (also charged in Case No. 02-20449) was arrested in Dallas, Texas, on November 23, 2007.

Also on November 23, there was an arrest arising from this investigation in Mexico.  Christopher Hamlet was arrested by Mexican Governmental authorities near Mexico City.  The arresting officers seized an AK-47-style assault rifle and $729,894 in cash.   Hamlet was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Tennessee on July 23, 2002 (Case No. 02-20259) and charged with narcotics and firearms violations.  Hamlet is incarcerated in Mexico pending disposition of a request for his return to the United States.  A motion in Case No. 02-20259 filed by the Government alleges that Petties was the head of a significant narcotics distribution network responsible for distributing thousands of kilograms of cocaine in the Western District of Tennessee and that Hamlet was a member of the Petties drug organization.

Previously, in a related investigation, David Warner was arrested by the Mexican authorities in July 2005 and returned to the Southern District of Mississippi to face federal narcotics charges there.  Warner had been included in the U.S. Marshal’s Top 15 List of Most Wanted Fugitives.  On September 12, 2007, Warner was sentenced in Case 04-00022 (S.D. Miss.) to 270 months imprisonment.

DEA Atlanta Field Division SAC Benson recommends parents and children educate themselves about the dangers of drug abuse by visiting DEA’s interactive website at www.justhinktwice.com

###