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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Undercover operation results in the indictment of 6 Wilmington gang leaders

Operation Tourniquet, an undercover, united task force enterprise resulted in the indictment of six Wilmington gang members on narcotics and firearm charges. (Port City Daily / photo JOHANNA FEREBEE)

WILMINGTON — A cooperative task force of law enforcement agencies have announced the indictment of six individuals on narcotics and firearms charges.

Resulting from an undercover enterprise spanning several months, key members of the Bloods street gang were dismantled under Operation Tourniquet.

Victor Eugene Dorm, 29, Rufus Lamar Parker, 27, Sylvester Lorenzo Hooper Jr., 26, James Flowers, 24, Eugene Telphia Grady Jr., 31, and Joseph Anthony Vaught, 28, all from Wilmington, are facing a combined 39 charges.

The superseding indictment involves a narcotics trafficking organization with the intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and powdered and crack cocaine.

U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon, Jr. was present for the announcement.

“Gangs in Wilmington remain a problem,” he said. “They are a catalyst for continued violent crime and drug and gun offenses.”

Higdon noted that of the 15 homicides in Wilmington last year, 10 involved guns and eight were gang-related.

Though recent crime statistics reveal a dip in aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder, some issues the Cape Fear region faces make Wilmington an outlier.

“Heroin distribution and drive-by shootings in particular remain an oversized problem for a city of Wilmington’s population,” Higdon said.

In the Eastern District of North Carolina, Higdon said Wilmington was one of the most violent locations, with gang members driving the unrest.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous addresses Operation Tourniquet, an undercover, united task force enterprise which indicted six Wilmington gang members on narcotics and firearm charges. (Port City Daily / photo JOHANNA FEREBEE)
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous addresses Operation Tourniquet, an undercover, united task force enterprise which indicted six Wilmington gang members on narcotics and firearm charges. (Port City Daily / photo JOHANNA FEREBEE)

Undercover members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who put themselves directly in harm’s way, were credited as instrumental in bringing in the indicted Wilmington gang leaders.

Special agent in charge Christopher Hyman said this operation will not be the last in our area.

“This is not the first case we’ve worked here and this is not the last case we will work in this area,” Hyman said.

“I am here to tell you we will use every legal and investigative tool at our disposal to attack these problems,” he said.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous thanked Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram and New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon for contributing assets to the task force, which comprised of 60 law enforcement personnel.

“This is a work in progress,” Evangelous said.

The gang-related surveillance activity reportedly occurred in the downtown area, particularly on or around Orange Street, South 11th Street, Anderson Street and Rankin street. Evangelous added that the criminal activity is not exclusively a downtown Wilmington problem.

“It spills over everywhere,” Evangelous said.

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