Operation Dodgeball press conference

Local agencies confiscate weapons and many other items in a investigation that began nearly 2 years ago. (Photo By: Lakeeda Johnson / WWAY)

DOWNTOWN WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — More than a dozen gang members, 11 guns, and several bags of heroin are off the streets after a major drug investigation in New Hanover County.

The U.S. Attorneys Office held a news conference to discuss Operation Dodgeball, an investigation that started nearly two years ago.

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City and state leaders worked together on the case, and it ended in the arrests of several gang members.

Friday afternoon at the New Hanover County Courthouse, United States Attorney Robert Higdon announced 14 people now serving time behind bars all due to drug trafficking and crime.

District Attorney Ben David expressed, “We had to reach outside of the territory of where we serve in New Hanover and Pender County, because you have to go after the traffickers, and not just the low line dealers on the street, or even the users of course. That’s exactly what we have done.”

To do that, investigators went undercover to buy drugs, conducted surveillance, and even wiretapped one gang leader’s cell phone.

Those intercepted calls allowed them to get a warrant to search a stash house for heroin and guns.

“These cases along with other investigations have helped us to make a strong start in reversing the drug crime and trafficking trends in Wilmington in the south eastern section of North Carolina,” United States Attorney Robert Higdon expressed.

They confiscated at least 11 guns and a whole lot more.

“About $10,000 was seized. We seized several thousand bags of heroin throughout it. The organization through interviews and the surveillance, and things we’ve done, they’ve imported during this time period, about 5 kilograms of either heroin or heroin fentanyl mixture,” US Assistant District Attorney Timothy Severo said.

Five defendants still need to be sentenced.

Here is a list of all 14 defendants.

  • Garry Hines
  • Antwine Lucas
  • Antonio Foster
  • Savon Hardaway
  • Andre Hall
  • Joshua Wright
  • Jaquaries Washington
  • Taveon Nixon
  • Jacquez Hill
  • Marcus Berry
  • Raquel Adams
  • Alicia Johnson
  • Kevin Freeman
  • Barry Pierce

Officials say Operation Dodgeball was part of the bigger Take Back North Carolina Initiative to fight violent crime, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.