Like any other business, the narcotics trade it requires a distribution infrastructure — Memphis has a good one, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It requires suppliers. Today, most drugs that arrive in Memphis come through Mexico, though they may originate in places like Colombia, law-enforcement officials say. And like any business, it needs customers. “(Colombians) say to me all the time, ‘We don’t think we have a drug problem. We think you have a drug problem,'” said Michael LaRosa, a Colombia expert at Rhodes College.
In the meantime, the lust for drug profits often leads to death. A federal indictment accuses Craig Petties and others of many crimes, including six killings in the Memphis area. Petties allegedly ordered a man’s kidnapping because he believed the man knew the location of a man who had stolen a big shipment of cocaine from his organization. The Commercial Appeal is running a series on the violent drug trade, with help from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.