Texas man guilty for his part in local cocaine distribution network in 2014

A man on trial for his part in a large-scale cocaine distribution network was found guilty after a six-day jury trial in federal court.

Larry J. Norton, 66, of Mission, Texas, and formerly of Fort Wayne, was found guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine.

Norton, along with four others, conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin along with more than 5 kilograms of cocaine in the Northern District of Indiana and elsewhere between October 2014 and January 2015, according to a news release.

Allan L. Bates of Fort Wayne, James W. Lepper of Butler, Eric D. White of Fort Wayne and Ryan Bowman of Payne, Ohio, previously had pleaded guilty, and all five now await sentencing.

At the time of their indictment in early 2015, more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, more than $5.9 million in cash and numerous firearms and vehicles were seized, according to court documents.

At the time, Bates was considered by law enforcement to be a key figure in the network, which also included marijuana.

The indictments were the result of an extensive law enforcement investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Fort Wayne Safe Streets Task Force, consisting of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department, the Fort Wayne Police Department and the Indiana State Police, who executed 17 federal searches in Indiana, Ohio and Texas. The DeKalb County and Johnson County Prosecutor’s offices also obtained two state search warrants.

A sixth man, DeWayne Lewis of Greenwood, was named in a separate indictment.

The drugs reportedly were transported from Mexico into Mission, Texas, where Norton lived at the time, and then would make their way up to Indiana, and the cash would return to Mission.