Representatives of numerous law enforcement agencies gathered in Buffalo Thursday to report that a dozen indictments had been unsealed, and 11 people arrested, in a case involving what they described as a violent criminal enterprise that included drugs, guns and murder.
US Attorney James P. Kennedy opened the news conference by announcing the superseding indictment, returned by a federal grand jury. Twelve suspected members and associates of the CBL/BFL gang, which police say operated out of the Towne Gardens Housing Complex.
"The Towne Gardens were utilized by the members of this gang to distribute quantities of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances," Kennedy said. "The gang used violence including murder and attempted murder, along with threats and intimidation to defend their territory against rival gangs and anyone they deemed to be a threat to them."
Named in the indictment are 26-year-old Shawn Woods, 27-year-old Michael Walker, 24-year-old Mikel Lowe, 26-year-old Aaron Mack, 20-year-old Shameris Washington, 20-year-old Maurice Rice, 22-year-old Dalvon Curry, 24-year-old Dajon Nettleds, 20-year-old Larell Watkins, 26-year-old Larry Watkins, Jr., 25-year-old Larquon Watkins and 23-year-old Rashad Rose.
All are charged with racketeering and narcotics conspiracy, possession of firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Additionally, Curry is charged in two murders, the 2015 shooting death of rival gang member Jaquan Sullivan and the 2017 killing of Xavier Wines. Larell Watkins is also charged with murder in the death of Wines, allegedly providing Curry with the gun used for the crime. Rose, Mack and Woods are additionally charged with assault in aid of racketeering.
Rose was still at large as of Thursday's news conference and police believe he was still in the area.
Coinciding with the news conference was a nearby cookout hosted by Buffalo Police, where officers joined volunteers from Buffalo Peacemakers to distribute hot dogs and hamburgers to neighbors. This, police explained, was one of several they host in the community to foster a good relationship and assure the public they are there to support the neighbors.
Law agencies represented in addition to Buffalo Police and the US Attorney's Office were the FBI Buffalo Office, Erie County District Attorney, Department of Homeland Security and New York State Police. Several speakers shared a common message to the young people of the neighborhood: the gang life is one to avoid.
"We did it today to the BFL gang. We'll do it in coming days, weeks and months," said Gary Loeffert, Special Agent-In-Charge at the FBI Buffalo Office. "We do it because gangs steal our young men and young women. This morning, children growing up around Towne Gardens lost potential role models and mentors because these men chose gang life."
It's a life, police leaders said, ends either in an arrest or early death.
Mayor Byron Brown declared neighbors within Towne Gardens could sleep easier that evening. Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, meanwhile, said there are some who still could not.
"We made the arrests here with BFL but I want the other gangs out there to know, don't sleep light. We'll be knocking on your door too," he said.