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North Carolina man receives 30 years in federal prison for drug charges

Darion “Pluck” Graham, 31, of New Hanover County, North Carolina, was sentenced on February 16, 2021, to 365 months imprisonment for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of 1,000 grams or more of heroin; two counts of distribution of a quantity of heroin and aiding and abetting; and possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and aiding and abetting, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina.

The investigation, along with evidence presented in court, revealed that beginning in October 2015 until May 2017, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Police Department made several controlled purchases of more than 90 grams of heroin from Graham and persons working at his direction in various locations in Wilmington.

“On August 29, 2017, the Wilmington Police Department, with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, executed a search warrant at Graham’s residence on Summertime Lane in Wilmington. Graham was on house arrest for pending state charges at the time the search took place. During the search, law enforcement found a small quantity of heroin and fentanyl, packaging material, and more than $13,000. As law enforcement made forced entry into the residence, Graham managed to flush a large quantity of heroin down the toilet.  As a result, Graham was detained exiting the bathroom,” stated the release.

“From February 2019 until May 2019, the Wilmington Police Department, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made several controlled purchases of 30 grams of heroin from Graham in the Wilmington area.

“On June 28, 2019, the Wilmington Police Department, together with the FBI, executed a search warrant on a River Front Place Apartment in Wilmington.  The apartment was rented in the mother’s name of one of Graham’s co-conspirators. As law enforcement was conducting the search of the residence, Graham and his co-conspirator arrived at the residence and attempted to flee upon seeing the police.  Law enforcement found 761 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture and more than $16,000 in drug proceeds,” the release continued.

“The investigation revealed that Graham held a position of leadership in a large heroin and/or fentanyl drug trafficking organization which had more than 10 people. Graham was supplying heroin and/or fentanyl and working with several members of a violent gang in Wilmington. Graham obtained heroin from New York, and, on one occasion, he and a co-conspirator picked up 3 kilograms of heroin. Graham was responsible for the distribution of more than 7 kilograms of heroin overall, more than 750 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture, and a quantity of a heroin/methamphetamine mixture.  Graham had a prior conviction for Conspiracy to Sell a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Graham was one of the largest heroin suppliers in New Hanover County at the time of his arrest in 2019.  While awaiting sentencing, Graham attempted to intimidate witnesses by disclosing their identity on social media,” stated the release.

The investigation was part of OCDETF Operation. An Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets, the release stated. This OCDETF focuses on a Multi-State Drug Trafficking Organization and Gang Activity that has been responsible for the distribution of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine throughout the United States.

Robert J. Higdon Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after the sentencing before U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wilmington Police Department, Holly Ridge Police Department and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo prosecuted the case.

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