KC area man gets 25-year sentence in $62 million cocaine racket, prosecutors say

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A Lee’s Summit man has received 25-year prison sentence for his role in a multi-million dollar drug ring that was responsible for distributing more than 2,000 kilograms of cocaine in the Kansas City area, according to federal prosecutors.

Howard Christopher Walters, 43, was sentenced Tuesday without the possibility of parole in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Missouri. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore said the long prison sentence sends “a clear signal to drug traffickers that their criminal activity won’t be tolerated.”

Walters was among 13 people charged by a federal grand jury in 2018 with what was estimated to be a $62 million cocaine distribution conspiracy. He was the owner of a Kansas City auto dealership when he was charged with the crimes.

Walters pleaded guilty in August to accusations of participating in a drug-trafficking conspiracy and money-laundering scheme between October 2013 and November 2018. His wife, Nina Walters, was sentenced earlier this month for her role in the crimes, the federal prosecutor’s office said.

Authorities alleged the Walters were leaders in cocaine distribution locally. Co-conspirators also charged in the crime were found to have transported the drugs and proceeds from the drug trade back and forth from Kansas City to El Paso, Texas and Mexico, prosecutors said.

As part of his punishment, Walters was also ordered to forfeit nearly $1 million to the federal government.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Lee’s Summit, Mo., Police Department.