07/20/2019
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RALEIGH – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that United States District Judge James C. Dever III, sentenced Rufus Lamar Parker, 28, of Wilmington to 78 months’ imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

On July 9, 2018, Parker pled guilty to six counts of distributing powder cocaine.  He pled guilty to an additional count charging conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine on November 30, 2018.

Parker was the fifth of six co-defendants to be sentenced in this case.  Four co-defendants have previously received sentences ranging from 60 to 240 months:

On May 23, 2018, Eugene Telphia Grady, Jr., was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment and 6 years of supervised release, following his guilty plea to a charge of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine.

On October 3, 2018, James Flowers was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment and 5 years of supervised release, following a guilty plea to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess cocaine and 28 grams of more of crack cocaine; manufacture, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine; and use and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

On October 3, 2018, Sylvester Lorenzo Hooper, Jr., was sentenced to 204 months’ imprisonment and 8 years of supervised release, following his guilty plea to conspiring to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; and distribution of a quantity of crack cocaine.

On February 20, 2019, Victor Dorm was sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment and 5 years of supervised release following his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and 28 grams or more of crack cocaine; distribution of heroin; manufacture, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; use and carry a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The remaining co-defendant, Joseph Anthony Vaught, is awaiting sentencing, which is currently set for April 29, 2019.  He entered a guilty plea on January 22, 2019, to charges of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

These convictions are the result of a long-term undercover operation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Officers of the Wilmington Police Department.   Beginning in December 2016 and continuing until the federal indictment in August of 2017, ATF used a confidential informant, undercover agents, and a wired undercover apartment to investigate gang and drug activity in the Wilmington, North Carolina area.  Victor Dorm, a principal target of the investigation, was a leader of a subset of the Bloods street gang.  Officers learned during the course of the investigation that Parker, a close associate of Dorm, supplied Dorm and other Bloods gang members with powder cocaine.  The gang then cooked the powder cocaine into crack cocaine, which they sold in the Wilmington area.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement was able to conduct a large numbers of controlled purchases of contraband from each of the six co-defendants, as well as from five additional men who have pled guilty in separate federal cases.   The confidential informant and undercover agents conducted roughly three-dozen transactions, purchasing cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, counterfeit currency, and multiple firearms.  Parker made seven of the sales, dating from March to July of 2017.  In each transaction, Parker supplied one-, two-, or three-ounce quantities of cocaine to a confidential informant, with a street value of approximately $1,500 per ounce.  On August 29, 2017, officers executed a search warrant at Parker’s residence, recovering an additional 117 grams of powder cocaine, as well as $31,020 in cash.

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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Since 2017 the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Wilmington Police Department, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jake D. Pugh represented the government.

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