FBI’s gang unit joins in search for boy’s killer

Pros­e­cu­tors be­lieve Towne Gar­dens served as base for a vi­o­lent group

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Phil Fair­banks and Maki Becker

A week af­ter a stray bul­let killed a 12-year-old boy, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity he was the in­no­cent vic­tim of a vi­o­lent gang feud in the neigh­bor­hood around Towne Gar­dens shop­ping cen­ter.

The FBI’s street gang unit, al­ready in­volved in the pros­e­cu­tion of a Towne Gar­dens gang, is now help­ing with the Buf­falo Po­lice De­part­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the killing of Badraldeen Mohamad El­waseem.

The fa­tal shoot­ing near Towne Gar­dens is the lat­est act of vi­o­lence in a neigh­bor­hood fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors be­lieve is rife with gang ri­val­ries.

The gov­ern­ment, in an in­dict­ment last year, de­tailed more than a dozen shoot­ings in­volv­ing feud­ing gang mem­bers in the East Side neigh­bor­hood ad­ja­cent to down­town and sug­gested that ri­val­ries abound.

“That’s the gov­ern­ment’s be­lief,” said An­thony J. Lana, a lawyer for an al­leged gang mem­ber ac­cused of two mur­ders. “They be­lieve there’s a turf war down there.”

Lana is quick to add that his client, Dalvon Curry, was never part of any gang.

The Buf­falo Po­lice and FBI are not com­ment­ing on whether the shoot­ing was gang-re­lated, but Towne Gar­dens Plaza is next door to the hous­ing com­plex that fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors be­lieve served as a base of op­er­a­tions for the CBL/BFL street gang.

The FBI ar­rested Curry and 11 other al­leged mem­bers of the gang last Au­gust and linked them to the shoot­ings that took place over a three-year pe­riod lead­ing up to mid-2017.

In­ves­ti­gated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, the CBL/BFL gang is be­lieved to have formed in 2009 and used the hous­ing com­plex as a base of op­er­a­tions and sold drugs – co­caine, heroin and fen­tanyl – out of their homes.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors say the gang was so bold, it doc­u­mented its drug deal­ing and vi­o­lence in rap videos and so­cial me­dia.

“In every ma­jor city in the U.S., there’s a gang prob­lem,” Mar­cello Fal­conetti, su­per­vis­ing spe­cial agent of the Buf­falo task force, said at the time of the ar­rests. “Our pur­pose is to dis­man­tle the most vi­o­lent gangs in the city.”

Six months later, Fal­conetti’s multi-agency task force

is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a new mur­der and try­ing to de­ter­mine if the sev­enth-grader known as Badr was the lat­est vic­tim of gang vi­o­lence in the neigh­bor­hood.

The boy was in­side his fam­ily’s se­cond-floor apart­ment a lit­tle af­ter 8:30 p.m. April 6 when a bul­let came fly­ing into his house and struck him in the head. He was rushed to Oishei Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal but could not be saved.

Badr was killed when gun­fire erupted across the street in the park­ing lot of the Towne Gar­dens shop­ping plaza at Wil­liam Street and Jef­fer­son Av­enue.

The shoot­ing took place in what the FBI claims is turf con­trolled by a gang with many names.

One is CBL, which stands for “Cash Been Long,” and an­other is BFL, or “Brothers For Life.” The let­ters are also acronyms for cruder monikers.

Formed a decade ago, the gang was based in Towne Gar­dens, a hous­ing com­plex made up mostly of Sec­tion 8 sub­si­dized town­homes and apart­ments and a few mar­ket-rate res­i­dences, court doc­u­ments say.

Some of the sus­pects lived in the hous­ing com­plex, and res­i­dents and civic lead­ers have long com­plained about crime there.

The gang’s turf, which they re­ferred to as “down the way,” went be­yond the hous­ing com­plex and in­cluded an area bounded by Ge­ne­see Street to the north, Seneca Street to the south, Michi­gan Av­enue to the west and Stan­ton Street to the east.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say the gang used the park­ing lots and store­fronts in and around Towne Gar­dens to sell drugs.

Gang mem­bers con­trolled their ter­ri­tory by us­ing vi­o­lence, according to the fed­eral in­dict­ment against them. It men­tions two mur­ders and claims Curry, 26, was the gun­man be­hind both of them.

In the first homi­cide, pros­e­cu­tors say Curry shot and killed ri­val gang mem­ber Jaquan Sul­li­van in De­cem­ber 2015. Po­lice at the time said Sul­li­van was shot on Park­dale Av­enue on the West Side and found around the cor­ner on Po­tomac Av­enue. He was 19.

Curry is also charged in the shoot­ing death of Xavier Wimes on New Year’s Day 2017.

According to the in­dict­ment, sev­eral mem­bers of the CBL/BFL gang beat up the 22-year-old Cheek­towaga man in­side an apart­ment where they were hold­ing a party and tried to keep him trapped. Wimes es­caped by jump­ing out of a win­dow and break­ing his leg in the fall.

Pros­e­cu­tors say Curry later tracked Wimes down on Byrd Way, which runs par­al­lel to Wil­liam near Jef­fer­son, and shot him at about 1 a.m., mak­ing Wimes the city’s first homi­cide of the new year.

Like most of the de­fense lawyers in the case, Lana in­sists his client is in­no­cent and pointed to the lack of ev­i­dence link­ing him to killings or the CBL/BFL.

“He’s deny­ing any as­so­ci­a­tion with any gang or group,” he said.

Buf­falo Po­lice are lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into last week’s shoot­ing and are ask­ing any­one with in­for­ma­tion to call the con­fi­den­tial TIP-CALL line at 847-2255.

Peo­ple can also call Crime Stop­pers Buf­falo at 867-6161.

The FBI and Crime Stop­pers are of­fer­ing a com­bined $12,500 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion that leads to the ar­rest of Badr’s killer.

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