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Largest cocaine network in Indiana brought down by local task force

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An extensive police investigation has netted 100 kilos of cocaine, $5.9 million in cash and numerous guns and vehicles.  The Fort Wayne Safe Streets task force led the investigation taking down the largest cocaine distribution network in Northern Indiana.

The following people were indicted:

  • Allan L. Bates, age 37, of Fort Wayne, Indiana,
  • James W. Lepper, 66, of Butler, Indiana,
  • Larry J. Norton, 63 of Mission Texas, formerly of Fort Wayne,
  • Eric D. White, 52 of Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Ryan Bowman, 35 of Payne, Ohio.

U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Indiana, David Capp, says all of the hard work by investigators makes a giant dent into the drug problem in the area.  The FBI, Allen County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Wayne Police Department and Indiana State Police make up the Safe Streets Task Force.

Capp said it was a tip given by Fort Wayne Police Chief Garry Hamilton that started the investigation.

The group is accused of trucking kilos of cocaine from Mexico to the greater Fort Wayne area and distributing it.  Police say Allan Bates of Fort Wayne was the kingpin.

“A major criminal enterprise has been severely disrupted and dismantled. The citizens of the Fort Wayne area should feel secure in the knowledge that their community is being hugely de-impacted in a positive way,” Indiana FBI Special Agent W. Jay Abbott said.

During nearly 20 searches, police found 100 kilos of cocaine worth about $3 million as well as $5.9 million in cash, guns and vehicles.  Of the $5.9 million dollars in cash they recovered, U.S. Attorney Capp says that will be forfeited and 80 percent will be given to local law enforcement to use at their discretion.

“If convicted, I would suspect the sentencing in federal court with this amount will be significant,” Capp said.

Although six people are in jail without bond and face federal charges, officials say their work isn’t over yet.

“This investigation is not over. We have got a lot more work to do,” U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Indiana David Capp said.

“Fort Wayne Police Department is not going to stop. Law enforcement period is not going to stop. We are going to continue our investigation and go after those individuals who are causing problems,” FWPD Police Chief Garry Hamilton said.

As for others out there, U.S. Attorney Capp has a special message for you: “We are coming to get you. As I’ve said before, it might take us two weeks, two months or quite frankly two years but we are going to put together a comprehensive case and we are coming to get you.”

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