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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Monday, November 18, 2019

CBL/BFL Member Pleads Guilty To Racketeering Conspiracy And Selling Crack Cocaine

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Larry Watkins, 27, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to racketeering conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. Parisi, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was a member of the CBL/BFL Gang, which stands for, among other things, “Cash Been Long” and “Brothers for Life.” The gang, which was involved in the illegal possession and distribution of narcotics, was formed around 2009 and operates primarily in the City of Buffalo at the Towne Gardens Housing Complex. The Towne Gardens served as a central hub for the gang with many members living within the housing complex, and many housing units used to store firearms and narcotics. Parking lots and business fronts adjacent to the Towne Gardens were utilized by members of the gang to distribute street level quantities of narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs. The gang used violence, including murder and attempted murder, threats, and intimidation to defend their territory against rivals and anyone deemed to be a threat to the gang.

On January 11, 2014, Buffalo Police Officers were on patrol on Stanton Street and observed the defendant with another person. Watkins then ran down the street with his hand on the handle of a gun. The defendant then threw the firearm over the fence of a house on Stanton Street. Officers recovered a loaded 38 special revolver and ammunition. 

On April 6, 2017, investigators executed a search warrant at 181 Sherman Street in Buffalo, and recovered one bag of crack cocaine and two digital scales in a grill in the backyard. The items belonged to the defendant. During the course of the investigation, investigators learned that Watkins frequently used the location at 181 Sherman Street as a location to store, manufacture, and distribute cocaine and crack cocaine. 

On April 21, 2018, Buffalo Police Officers stopped the defendant’s vehicle which he was driving without a license and illegally tinted windows. Officers located a bag of crack cocaine and a bag of marijuana inside the car.

On July 24, 2018, the defendant was at 998 Smith Street in Buffalo when investigators executed a search warrant and recovered one bag crack cocaine, four bags of marijuana, a digital scale, and narcotics packaging.

“The good citizens of Western New York do not deserve to live in fear of young men who decide to join these violent neighborhood street gangs,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “In joining these gangs, members agree to a rulebook which seems to require them to poison their home field through drug dealing and to eradicate their opposition through gun violence. Those are not the rules, however, and if these young men ignore the warnings being given to them by law enforcement through its community policing efforts and decide to participate in a zero sum game that is gang membership, then my Office will enforce the actual rulebook—in the form of federal criminal law—and remove them from our community. By actively targeting and removing those who possess or use guns illegally, federal prosecutions for illegal firearms this year at an all-time high in our District.  It is no coincidence that this surge in federal gun prosecutions has corresponded with the reduction in gun violence in the community.”

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Edward Kennedy; the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard; the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Zack; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Michel; and the Erie Crime Analysis Center. Additional assistance was provided by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney John Flynn.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2020, before Judge Vilardo. 

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Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Updated November 18, 2019