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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

DOJ announces 18 Wilmington-area gang members were brought to justice after a national-level multi-agency investigation

U.S. Attorney Norman Acker III announced the successful coordination in prosecuting national-level criminals in Wilmington.
Bethanie Simms
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo announced the successful coordination in prosecuting national-level criminals in Wilmington.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina announced on Friday they have successfully prosecuted 18 local members of the nationally recognized gang, “The Gangster Disciples.”

The Gangster Disciples is a national gang with an estimated 25-50,000 members in 110 cities in 31 states. Their main operation is the distribution of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and fentanyl.

According to the acting U.S. Attorney Norman Acker, a coordinated effort among local police and sheriff’s narcotics units and the FBI and ATF was successful in dismantling the Wilmington network of gang-related drug trafficking. Known as Operation Tiny Toons, the operation took place between 2015 and 2017.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo said the local gang leader Darion Graham was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He added they deliberately postponed the arrest of Mr. Graham in order to build a case that would ensure all those involved with the case would do significant jail time.

”We were attempting to build a case to bring down an entire organization and make sure that when he came into federal court, that it will be potentially forever before he would see daylight again for the damage that he was doing to this community," he said.

Severo said that in the wake of a bust of this size, other criminal actors may try and fill the void. He warned them not to try.

”I would say to you if you want to take on the United States of America because that is what is represented behind me, it will be like drinking water out of a Firehose and you will be next," he said.

Severo said local and federal agencies will continue to cooperate to bring those who prey on Wilmington citizens to justice.

Note: This article has been updated to correctly identify the speaker as U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo; the speaker was originally identified as U.S. Attorney Norman Acker.

Bethanie is a freelance writer for WHQR. She was the 2021-2022 UNCW News Fellow during the pursuit of her M.A. in English. She holds a B.A. in Political Studies with a focus on Constitutional Law. Originally from California and Colorado, she is a Marine Corps Military Police Reserve officer and an Afghanistan War Veteran. Her civilian professional background includes corporate finance and legal litigation.