News Column

Fugitive From Mexican Prison Faces More Prison in U.S.

May 13, 2013

Beth Warren

A drug-ring fugitive fled Memphis for Mexico to escape police but ended up trapped in a Mexican prison for five torturous years.

On Tuesday, before a federal judge in Memphis, Christopher "Lil' Wolf" Hamlett, 36, pleaded guilty to dealing crack cocaine and illegal possession of a handgun in 2002 charges that can now bring him up to 45 years in a federal prison.

At a moment in the hearing when defendants are typically silent, Hamlett spoke out, insisting: "Judge, you don't have to worry about me. I just spent so much time in jail in Mexico. Mexico taught me a lesson, for real."

U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays said he doesn't know much about Mexican jails but realizes he will be hearing more about Hamlett's five-year stint before he sentences him on Aug. 8.

Said Hamlett's attorney, Robert Parris: "Not a place you'd want to spend a long time."

The judge retorted: "I can't imagine a prison I want to spend a long time in."

Outside court, Parris said Hamlett had been targeted and harassed in the Mexican jail, which he described as violent and filthy.

"To say that he was a minority would be an understatement," the attorney said. "He would just stand out."

He said he will elaborate on the conditions Hamlett faced during the sentencing hearing.

During Tuesday's hearing, a lone supporter sat in court, Hamlett's stepfather. The two hadn't seen one another in years, Parris said.

Hamlett smiled and waved at the man as U.S. Marshals escorted him out of the courtroom.

In 2002, police stopped Hamlett and his girlfriend, Deidre Williams, in a Dodge Neon, and found 26 grams of crack cocaine and a handgun in the glove box, prosecutor David Pritchard told the judge. Inside the couple's Raleigh home, police found more crack in the attic. Hamlett told the judge he had more than 800 grams.

Hamlett, a Gangster Disciple, got the drugs from an associate of infamous drug trafficker and multimillionaire Craig Petties.

Hamlett had grown up with Petties in Riverside, an impoverished neighborhood in South Memphis, and became part of the drug lord's trusted inner circle.

After Hamlett's arrest, he fled to Mexico to hide under the wing of Petties and a Mexican cartel until police there eventually arrested him and Williams.

Hamlett is the final defendant in the Petties organization to plead guilty, joining more than 40 others toppled by an investigation led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

It is considered one of the largest-known cocaine-trafficking rings, and one of the deadliest, in Tennessee history.

Originally published by Beth Warren.

(c) 2013 Commercial Appeal, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.





Source: Copyright Commercial Appeal, The 2013


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