Paying for Guns with Drugs Establishes Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking

In United States v. Gardner/Gladden, 08-47930-cr (2d Cir. March 10, 2010), appellants challenged the district court’s instruction to the jury that it could find a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) if it found that the defendants “acquired the firearm by paying for it with drugs involved in the conspiracy.”

In rejecting that challenge, the Court joined the First, Fourth, Sixth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits and held that when a defendant acquires a firearm using drugs as payment, he possesses that firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A).