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Press Release

Columbia Gang Member Sentenced on Federal Firearm Charge

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

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Raekwon Cortez Ford, 25, of Columbia, was sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Evidence presented to the Court showed that, in late November 2019, several automobiles were broken into and various items stolen, including an iPhone. One of the victims of the break-ins was able to track their iPhone to a residence in Columbia and notified the Columbia Police Department.  Officers responded to the residence and found a number of individuals in the yard, including Ford.  Ford, a gang member, was placed under arrest on outstanding warrants and was found to be in possession of the stolen iPhone. 

Officers then obtained a search warrant for Ford’s residence, which they executed a month later. Within the residence, officers located Ford, who had been released on state bond from the earlier arrest, and found a loaded Ruger .45 caliber handgun concealed in an air vent in Ford’s bedroom.  An analysis showed Ford’s DNA on the firearm and that the firearm had been reported stolen from an earlier auto break-in in Columbia in December 2018.  A ballistics analysis through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) revealed that the firearm had been used in four separate shooting incidents in Richland and Lexington Counties from June through August 2019. It should be noted that there was no evidence linking Ford himself to the actual shootings as he was in jail on state charges at the time of the shootings.   

During the sentencing hearing, the Court heard evidence of Ford’s possession of four other firearms, some with extended magazines, and some of which had been reported stolen from automobiles. The Court also heard evidence of threats made by Ford toward a Deputy United States Marshal and a correctional officer while incarcerated. That post-plea conduct increased his sentencing range and resulted in Ford losing his acceptance of responsibility reduction despite pleading guilty.

Ford is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior felony convictions. Ford has prior state convictions for unlawful carrying of a weapon, possession of a pistol by a person under 18 years of age, obtaining property under false pretenses, and breach of peace of an aggravated nature (which involved a shooting).  

United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon sentenced Ford to 60 months imprisonment, to be followed by a three-year term of Court-ordered supervision.  There is no parole in the federal system. In imposing the sentence, the Court noted, “Guns in the hands of folks who aren’t supposed to have them is very serious business.”

This case was made possible by investigative leads generated from the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms. NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles. For more information on NIBIN, visit

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.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Columbia Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey D. Haynes prosecuted the case.



Derek A. Shoemake (843) 813-0982

Updated August 22, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses