WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - More than a dozen people have been sentenced in federal court over the past several months in connection to a large-scale heroin trafficking organization.
According to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina, the multi-year investigation determined that the defendants were responsible for the sale of narcotics in the Wilmington area as well as multiple violent acts.
These convictions were part of Operation Dodgeball, a joint federal, state and local investigation aimed to combat drug trafficking. The investigation started in early 2018 and focused on members of the United Blood Nation who were trafficking heroin and the violence associated with this group.
Wilmington Police Task Force Officers were able to identify members and associates of the violent drug gang and then partner with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to develop a strategy to dismantle the organization.
Federal and local law enforcement officers purchased heroin form organization members between April 2018 and August 2018 as part of the investigation. They also conducted surveillance and performed several traffic stops.
At least two prior convictions connected to Operation Dodgeball involved Garry “Ratchet” Hines, 25, and Savon Hardaway, 23, who were sentenced in December after they pleaded guilty to heroin-related charges.
Prosecutors said the pair was part of the Nine Trey sect of the United Blood Nation gang which sold drugs and committed violent acts in the Wilmington area.
In all, 19 defendants have pleaded in federal court and 14 have been sentenced.
Law enforcement says the organization was responsible fro the importation and distribution of more than 5 kg of heroin and heroin/fentanyl mixture. Additionally, a total of 11 firearms were seized — some of which were used in crimes of violence, according to ballistic testing.
Here’s a list of those sentenced during Operation Dodgeball:
The remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced over the next few months.
Federal prosecutors say this operations is an example of the continuing efforts behind the Take Back N.C. initiative. Since the Take Back N.C. initiative started almost 800 people have been convicted — nearly 170 of those in Wilmington.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force, consisting of FBI special agents, Wilmington Police Department investigators, and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office detectives, investigated Operation Dodgeball.