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Press Release

Wilmington Man Receives 74 Months for Drug and Gun Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Wilmington man was sentenced today to 74 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack) and being a felon in possession of a firearm. On March 30, 2022, Rasul Gatford, age 31, pled guilty to the charges.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, in October of 2021, members of the Wilmington Police Department Vice and Narcotics Unit began an investigation into Gatford after receiving information concerning his drug trafficking activities. On October 28, 2021, Gatford was arrested by the Wilmington Police Department for distributing crack cocaine and, during his arrest, officers located a quantity of crack cocaine on Gatford’s person. A search warrant of Gatford’s home also revealed an additional quantity of crack cocaine, marijuana, drug manufacturing equipment, and a firearm.

At the time of this offense, Gatford was on Federal Supervised Release for a 2013 conviction for Using, Carrying, and Brandishing a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime and Aiding and Abetting (7:13-CR-10-1BO).

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle.  The FBI’s Coastal Carolina Safe Street’s Gang Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Wilmington Police Department investigated the case and Special Assistant United States Attorney William Van Trigt prosecuted the cases.  Mr. Van Trigt is a prosecutor with the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office.  District Attorney Ben David has assigned him to the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute federal violent crimes and other criminal matters.  This has been made possible by a grant funded by New Hanover County.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 7:21-cr-00140-BO.

Updated August 23, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods