Drug investigation leads to 18 convictions of gang members

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Nearly 20 people have been sentenced in a multi-year drug investigation targeting gang members in North Carolina, according to federal prosecutors.

During a news conference Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina described a gang-related heroin/fentanyl conspiracy.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Tiny Toons, began in 2017 and focused on the Gangster Disciples, including one person described as of the largest suppliers of heroin and fentanyl in the Wilmington area.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo, the lead prosecutor, detailed drug-related criminal activity over the years, including the murder of one of the targets of the investigation in Greensboro in May 2017, a high-speed chase in Wilmington in March 2017, and an incident where a helicopter tracked a suspect attempting to flee on a motorcycle.

Among the 18 people sentenced was Darion Graham, 31, of Wilmington, who investigators say flushed a large quantity of heroin down the toilet and was detained leaving the bathroom. Graham was sentenced to about 30 years in prison.