A Bucks County judge sentenced a ghost gun manufacturer and firearms trafficker on Monday, to 15 to 30 years in state prison.
President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. sentenced Russell Byron Norton, 32, of Bensalem; he was arrested in December by Bristol Township Police and the Bucks County Detectives Drug Strike Force.
Investigators charged Norton with more firearms sales and possession offenses than anyone else in recent Bucks County history. Detectives investigating the Pentz Drug and Gun Distribution Organization identified Norton as a manufacturer of privately made firearms, also known as “ghost guns,” including AR-15 rifles, AK-47 rifles, and other different caliber handguns, which he possessed, built, sold and/or delivered.
Norton pleaded guilty in August to 82 counts of the following crimes: corrupt organizations; prohibited possession of a firearm; altering or obliterating a mark of identification; possession of a firearm with an altered manufacturer number; firearm ownership – duty of other persons; and firearms not to be carried without a license.
In a second case, he pleaded guilty to possession of contraband at the county jail and other drug-related crimes.
Norton was arrested after a yearlong investigation that culminated on Dec. 21, 2022, with a pair of coordinated search warrants being served at his home in Bensalem and his business in Bristol Township.
At his home, detectives recovered 13 firearms, which included a ghost gun handgun, two AR-15 type ghost guns and other handguns, rifles and a shotgun and a large amount of ammunition. At his business, police located 18 firearms in various stages of manufacturing and one completed firearm, along with tools and items used to manufacture and build additional firearms.
Pennsylvania law prohibited Norton from possessing firearms because of a previous conviction and because he had an active criminal warrant out of New Jersey.
The Bucks County Strike Force is a part of the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, focusing on areas of drug trafficking and gun violence. The Bucks County Detectives Drug Strike Force and Bristol Township Police Department were assisted in this investigation by Homeland Security Investigations-Philadelphia, Bensalem Township Police Department, the Bucks County South SWAT Team, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Philadelphia Bomb Squad.