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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Five co-defendants from New Jersey pleaded guilty to, and received their sentences for, trafficking heroin in New Hanover County.

The district attorney’s office said the charges stem from arrests on March 30, 2012. When Wilmington Police got a tip from an informant, investigators launched what would become a two-month investigation.

Investigators said they found out the United Blood Nation gang from New Jersey had connected with Wilmington members. Investigators watched the suspects, and then bought heroin from them at the Days Inn Motel on Market Street. That’s how investigators were able to get a warrant to search the rooms the suspects had rented. There, they found 2,718 glassine bags of heroin and arrested eight suspects for several drug felonies. Five ended up facing charges.

Last week, Stephen Poole, 23, Leah Porter, 31, James Thomas, 36, Tykeem Thomas, 39, and Reginald Willis, 30, all admitted in New Hanover County court to heroin trafficking. Poole also pleaded guilty to selling and delivering the drug. Their sentences range from up to one year to more than 16 years in prison.

District Attorney Ben David said it’s important to give drug traffickers harsh sentences.

“Heroin is a dangerous drug that takes the lives of hundreds of people each year,” David said. “Drug dealers from Wilmington, and from other cities, need to know that my office takes offenses involving heroin seriously and that offenders will face stiff penalties for dealing drugs in my district.”

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