Twitter. Snapchat. YouTube.
Whatever the social media platform, the CBL/BFL street gang had an unusual and clandestine follower.
On a daily basis and without the gang's knowledge, Buffalo Police Lt. Jonathan Pietrzak was watching and reading, often posing as someone else.
"I'm monitoring those we believe to be involved in gang activity or criminal activity," Pietrzak told a federal court jury last week.
One of the people he followed was Dalvon Curry, the accused gang member on trial for two murders, a man prosecutors have portrayed as a brutal, merciless killer.
Pietrzak said he knew Curry from his days patrolling Towne Gardens Apartments, the focal point of the CBL/BFL's turf, and followed him on Twitter.
He also tracked the gang on YouTube, and it was there that he found three rap videos featuring Curry and other suspected members of the CBL/BFL gang.
"The videos are titled BFL, which is a name that caught our attention," he said.
The gang's moniker stands for "Cash Been Long" or "City of Brotherly Love," and "Brothers For Life" or "Be Forever Loyal," according to prosecutors.
In one of the videos titled "War," Curry can be seen waving what appears to be a handgun while others are pictured holding wads of cash. And with those images is the message, through lyrics, that others, "won't war with us."
Despite repeated objections from Curry's lawyer, Kevin W. Spitler, prosecutors were allowed to play the three videos for the jury last week. Spitler sees the videos as unfairly prejudicial given most people's lack of awareness about rap and its historical emphasis on violence and money.
The other videos, which are the work of "Graveyard Productions," also feature Curry and frequent images of guns and money.
Pietrzak said he used several undercover social media accounts to track the gang and, over the course of his testimony, listed at least 10 gang members he was friends with on social media. He also testified about his use of Sneakaboo, an app that allows you to save Snapchat photos and videos – otherwise they disappear – without alerting the other party.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. Parisi did not get into the details of Pietrzak's social media persona, but at one point Pietrzak acknowledged the necessity for a fake identity.
"Identifying myself as law enforcement would make it highly unlikely that those involved in criminal activity would accept my account," he told the jury.
Over the course of his social media monitoring, Pietrzak came across a Twitter feud between Curry and Jaquan Sullivan, a rival gang member and one of the two people Curry is charged with killing.
The other is Xavier Wimes, who was murdered New Year's Day two years ago.
Curry, who has maintained his innocence since his arrest last year, is expected to argue that he knew some people involved in wrongdoing but wasn't part of any gang.
And when the government starts introducing witnesses, many of them admitted gang members who agreed to cooperate in return for leniency, Spitler will almost certainly question their motivation and honesty.
From Day One, Curry was the main target of an FBI and Buffalo Police Department investigation into gang rivalries in the neighborhood near Jefferson Avenue and William Street.
Formed about a decade ago, the CBL/BFL gang used the neighborhood around Towne Gardens Plaza as its base of operations and relied on heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine and marijuana sales to thrive.
The investigation led to an indictment against Curry and a dozen other suspected gang members. Curry is charged with murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy and unlawful gun possession.
His trial before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo resumes Tuesday.