NEW HANOVER COUNTY – A man known as one of the largest heroin suppliers in New Hanover County was sentenced last week to 30 years in federal prison.
Darion “Pluck” Graham, 31, will serve 365 months for drug trafficking charges, including conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of 1,000-plus grams of heroin; two counts of dispersing a quantity of heroin and aiding and abetting; and possession with the intent to dispense 100 grams or more of heroin and aiding and abetting, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
The Brunswick County and New Hanover County sheriff’s offices, along with the Wilmington Police Department, looked into Graham for over one-and-a-half years, from October 2015 through May 2017. During that investigation several controlled purchases were executed with more than 90 grams of heroin. Both Graham and people following his direction completed the sales.
On Aug. 29, 2017, Wilmington police searched Graham’s home on Summertime Lane in Wilmington. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted with the warrant.
At the time Graham was on house arrest, pending state charges. According to the Department of Justice, Graham flushed a large amount of heroin down the toilet upon law enforcement’s arrival, then was detained as he left the bathroom. Still, officers discovered a small amount of heroin and fentanyl, packaging material and more than $13,000.
In the spring of 2019 Wilmington officers and the FBI made multiple controlled purchases of 30 grams of heroin from Graham. Then on June 28, 2019, the Wilmington police and FBI carried out a search warrant at an apartment at River Front Place in Wilmington. It was rented under the mother’s name of one of Graham’s co-conspirators.
As the search was underway, Graham and his partner showed up, spotted police and attempted to flee. Officers uncovered 761 grams of heroin and fentanyl mixture and more than $16,000 in profits from selling drugs.
“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,” according to the Department of Justice. “Graham was supplying heroin and/or fentanyl and working with several members of a violent gang in Wilmington.”
Heroin came from New York, according to investigators, and at one point Graham and his partners picked up 3 kilograms of heroin.
Overall Graham was found guilty of dealing out more than 7 kilograms of heroin, over 750 grams of a heroin and fentanyl mix, and a quantity of heroin and methamphetamine mix.
Graham was previously convicted for conspiracy to sell a Schedule I controlled substance. As he awaited sentencing following his 2019 arrest, Graham tried to “intimidate witnesses” by sharing their identity on social media, according to the release.
The investigation was the work of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a joint effort among federal, state and local agencies to combat drug trafficking and dismantle large trafficking operations.
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