NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A joint task force is making sure gang members spend the maximum amount of time in jail and off the streets.
A judge sentenced Terrance Goodman, also known as Fresh, to more than 10 years in prison for drug charges. District Attorney Ben David said the sentence would not have been as long had prosecutors not tried the case at the federal level.
"When we bring them to justice we are going to pick the venue that gives us maximum amount of time in prison," he said.
Goodman, considered a high ranking gang member in Wilmington, already served time in jail for assault with a deadly weapon charges. When officers arrested him this time for several undercover heroin buys, prosecutors determined the charges called for a federal case.
David said the gang member "threw up" when officers served him with the federal paperwork.
"That says a lot about his recognition that we were now talking about serious time," David said.
This conviction is one of many for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and David said the signs and colors that show up in the street can only hurt gang members in the courtroom.
"What you're really needing to focus on is not just a group but individuals," David said. "Because individuals ultimately have to answer for their own conduct."
The courtroom depends on the crime, according to David. He said some charges, like weapons and violent crimes, could carry a heavier sentence at the state level, and that's where prosecutors will file the case.
David said he sees a lot of good in the community with several organizations and church groups working to discourage gang involvement, but he said it can only end when those individuals are ready to change.
"At the end of the day, there's only a few people who are causing the vast majority of criminal activity in this community," he said.
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