Drug Ring Dismantled
The FBI case against Mitchell’s organization began in the summer of 2015 in response to a spike in gang violence in the area—the result of the Bloods’ turf wars surrounding the drug trade. In January 2016, the task force initiated a court-ordered wiretap of Mitchell and others.
The evidence revealed that the organization was receiving large quantities of cocaine in the Triangle area—much of it shipped from California in containers used to package furniture—and that gang members were being used as distributors and enforcers.
During the three months the wiretap was in place, evidence showed that Mitchell and his associates distributed 23 kilos of cocaine. When the group members were arrested in April 2016, task force members seized 7.6 pounds of cocaine and 3.5 pounds of heroin. Also seized were weapons, kilo presses—which the traffickers used to form powder cocaine into bricks—and jewelry, including a $50,000 wristwatch.
The traffickers were charged federally with a variety of drug trafficking offenses, because federal sentencing guidelines provided lengthier prison terms than state charges. The nine members of the Maurio Mitchell Drug Trafficking Organization, all convicted in 2016 and 2017, were sentenced in October and December 2017.
“A lot of these guys have been known locally to law enforcement for their criminal activity, and many have significant records,” Thomas said. “We hope the federal charges and long prison terms in this case send the appropriate message to anyone with intentions to fill the criminal void they left behind.”
In addition to FBI and Durham Police Department personnel, members of the Raleigh-Durham Safe Streets Task Force include officers from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Also taking part in the Mitchell investigation were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division.
“This was a great team effort,” Jessup said. “Dismantling the Maurio Mitchell organization made the community a safer place.”