by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County fugitive, on the run for more than decade, was in court Tuesday to seal his fate.
Channel 2 Action News had the only camera in the courtroom, when the man investigators call the 'king-pin' pleaded guilty to his role as a drug trafficker.
Police first arrested Kip Genter, 37, inside a Duluth apartment in 1996.
They said he took off in 1999, just as his trial was set to begin.
Investigators said they never gave up on closing this case.
"We would pick up every once in a while and say, let's go try and find him again. And, finally it paid off," said Gwinnett Chief Assistant District Attorney Dan Mayfield.
Genter became the focus of one of Gwinnett County’s first-ever wiretap investigations. Mayfield showed Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh the tapes of thousands of recorded phone calls revealing the then 22-year-old's lifestyle.
"He was quite a playboy. He was living the lifestyle of almost a 'Miami Vice' sort of drug dealer."
Mayfield said Genter had a network of 22 people that sold cocaine and marijuana across Gwinnett County.
Mayfield thought the party was over the day of the arrest.
He said through a wiretap they learned that Genter would be coming to a Duluth apartment complex on Wesley Plantation Road to drop off two kilos of cocaine. They found Genter, the drugs and $20,000 in cash.
They brought the entire network down. But just as his trial was set to begin in 1999, Genter ran. He hid out for the last 12 years.
In May, a FBI agent found Genter outside Miami, Fla. living a new life under a false name.
But on Tuesday, when Genter walked into the courtroom to enter his guilty plea, it marked the end of a case that began nearly two decades ago.
The judge accepted Genter's guilty plea and sentenced him to 25 years in jail and five years of probation.