ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford drug dealer has been sentenced to spend more than 6 years in federal prison on charges of illegal weapon possession.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Willie Evans, 35, pleaded guilty to the charge of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon due to a prior conviction, which prohibited him from owning or possessing a gun.

The charges stemmed from a February 23rd, 2022 arrest in which Evans was found to have a loaded gun in his possession, along with several small baggies containing cocaine and ecstasy.

The sentencing is part of a U.S. Justice Department prosecution initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods, designed to reduce violent crime in northern Illinois.

A federal grant is enabling courts to use an intelligence-led approach to prosecutions that target the most violent criminals.