FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – One of two men accused of keeping 19 pounds of methamphetamine and 900 grams of fentanyl inside a city home pleaded guilty this week to drug and gun charges, according to U.S. District Court records.
Federal prosecutors initially charged 36-year-old Samuel Battell with seven counts of felonies ranging from dealing methamphetamine to possessing a firearm as a felon after a 2020 raid at a Spring Street home uncovered drugs, guns and cash.
On Tuesday, Battell copped to two of those counts – possessing with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors will agree to drop the other charges against him at his sentencing. They will also recommend a judge impose the minimal sentence allowed as to the counts Battell admitted to – which could be roughly 15 years in prison or a mixture of a fine, some prison time and supervised release.
Battell’s cohort who was also arrested after the raid, 45-year-old Steven J. Hecke, faces the same slew of charges ranging from dealing to possessing a firearm as a felon.
He has until next week to make a plea agreement before his scheduled June trial, according to court documents.
Federal agents were looking into the men as early as January 2020, according to court documents.
One day in mid-January, DEA agents in Chicago saw Hecke at a rental storage unit loading a five-gallon bucket into a truck with a license plate registered to his address on Spring Street.
Soon after, federal search warrants were obtained for that address as well as a nearby apartment suspected of being a drug stash location used by the men.
As Hecke was driving from Chicago to Fort Wayne that day, agents with the DEA and the Allen County Drug Task Force began surveillance on the Spring Street property.
Hecke and Battell arrived in separate trucks within minutes of each other and briefly met before Battell moved his truck to Andrew Street nearby, according to court documents. Battell and Hecke were seen grabbing three five-gallon buckets from a truck and taking them into the Spring Street home before they were confronted by officers.
Both tried to flee the scene but were arrested by officers shortly after.
At the time, agents said the 900 grams of fentanyl found in the home could have been devastating to the community, as only 2 milligrams is enough to kill the average person.