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Press Release

Buffalo Man Indicted For Distribution Of Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, Butyryl Fentanyl And Marijuana

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a 14-count indictment charging Tracy Bankston, 50, of Buffalo, NY, with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine, butyryl fentanyl, and marijuana. The defendant was also charged with possessing controlled substances with the intent to distribute; maintaining a drug-involved premises; possessing of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possessing of a firearm as a convicted felon.  The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $5,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Felicetta, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, Bankston is accused of distributing drugs between July of 2015 and December of 2016. The investigation included the execution of search warrants on five separate dates and locations.  

On August 8, 2016, officers from the Buffalo Police Department executed a search warrant at 112 Ideal Street, upper apartment, in Buffalo and recovered cocaine, scales, baggies, and a shortened rifle. It is alleged that the defendant was on the corner selling drugs at the time the warrant was executed. Bankston was initially charged in state court and released on conditions.

On August 21, 2016, Buffalo Police officers executed a search warrant at 70 Chauncey and recovered a quantity of crack cocaine. Bankston pleaded guilty in Buffalo City Court to a class B misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, the maximum penalty for that offense.

On January 7, 2016, officers from the Buffalo and West Seneca Police Departments executed a search warrant at 36 Boyton Street, upper apartment, in West Seneca. At the time, Bankston was observed by officers selling drugs at the corner of Boyton and Clinton Streets. On his person, police recovered three bags of crack cocaine and one bag of butyryl fentanyl, along with $1,315 in cash. Inside the residence, officers recovered 27 grams of crack cocaine, five grams of cocaine, 7 grams of butyryl fentanyl, scales, baggies, and an assortment of ammunition. The defendant was initially charged in state court, indicted by an Erie County Grand Jury, and released on conditions.

On April 9, 2016, Buffalo Police officers executed a search warrant at 359 Riley Street. Bankston was located at the residence along with cocaine, scales, pipes, and baggies. Three other people were found inside the residence as well, all of whom admitted to being cocaine addicts. The defendant was again charged in state court and released on conditions.

On December 12, 2016, deputies from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office surveilled Bankston selling cocaine in a controlled buy with an informant. Thereafter, they obtained a search warrant for Bankston, his vehicle, and his residence. On December 16, 2016, deputies executed the search warrant at 53 Benzinger Street, upper apartment, in Buffalo.  When they approached the residence, the defendant was observed on the second floor balcony discarding a brown powdery substance in the snow.  Bankston refused officer commands to stop what he was doing. The substance, suspected of being heroin, was destroyed after the laboratory determined that it was unable to be chemically analyzed due to its mixture with snow. 

Inside Bankston’s bedroom, police recovered over 28 grams of crack cocaine, two ounces of marijuana, scales, baggies, a Smith and Wesson .357 caliber revolver, and a TEC-9 9mm pistol with an extended clip as well as nearly 100 rounds of .357 and 9mm ammunition with the 2 handguns. Also seized in the raid was $12,050 in cash recovered from a safe.

Bankston was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and is being held without bail pending his next court appearance on September 18, 2017, at 11:00 a.m.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent-in- Charge, New York Field Division; the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda; and the West Seneca Police Department, under the direction of Chief Daniel Denz.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.  

Updated May 31, 2017