News and Press Releases


MONDAY - January 12, 2009


WILMINGTON - At a press conference today, United States Attorney George E.B. Holding and District Attorney Ben David for the 5th Judicial District announced the successful investigation and prosecution of the significant drug trafficking organization targeted as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation entitled, “Seven Day Ground.”

The extensive drug trafficking organization investigated was responsible for the importation of over 350 kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin into the Eastern District of North Carolina. The cocaine was being distributed from separate sources of supply in Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas. The heroin came from New York.

During the investigation 17 kilograms of cocaine, 3 ounces of heroin, 5 firearms, and $312,000 in United States currency was seized.

To date, 11 defendants have been sentenced in federal court receiving a total of 1,861 months in prison. This includes Gratiniano Castillo, who received 480 months, and Lacy Tate and Shahzad Mathur, who each received 240 months.

This investigation would not have been possible without the combined law enforcement efforts of over 15 different agencies in five different states. The law enforcement agencies included the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; Louisiana Federal Bureau of Investigation; Dillon Sheriff’s Department; West Lake, Louisiana Police Department; Lake Charles, Louisiana Police Department; South West Louisiana Crime Laboratory; Louisiana State Police Department; Houston Police Department; Texas Department of Public Safety; Wilmington Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Wilmington Police Department.

Mr. Holding stated, “The state-federal team approach used in this case is just one instance of many more partnerships to come. This approach, as you can see, has been very successful and we are very pleased with the results.”

Mr. David commented, “The state and federal partnership we have forged and the police-prosecutor team approach that has been employed have made justice in our area more swift and severe. The results of “Seven Day Ground” speak for themselves. We must continue this partnership.”


News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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