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Crack on the Menu: Watts Burger Stand Owner Gets 15 Years

Burger stand owner Brian Sawyers was sentenced to another 15 years after the three-time felon and convicted drug trafficker was caught selling cocaine to a confidential informant out of his Los Angeles food stand in 2012.

Sawyers, 57, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on Wednesday morning for the two most-recent instances of selling crack to a confidential informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The United States Attorney’s Office stated that the conviction took into account Sawyers’ three prior felony convictions, of which two were federal. The prior convictions meant that his prison sentence could be no less than ten years.

In February 2012, Sawyers sold more than an ounce of cocaine to the informant in the parking lot of B.D. Burgers, his south Los Angeles burger joint in the Watts area. He sold the informant another 2.5 ounces in March 2012, the two first meeting at the burger stand and completing the transaction at Sawyers’ home.

“ATF aggressively investigates circumvention of the procedures designed to prevent illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden in a statement. “We are committed to safe neighborhoods. This lengthy sentence reinforces that commitment and acts as a deterrent to any person contemplating the same conduct.”

“Crack cocaine remains a highly addictive drug that poses a danger to its users, and the trafficking of crack poses dangers to the community at large,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Removing this defendant from the street for the next 15 years increases the safety of the law-abiding residents of South Los Angeles.”

The burger joint has a three-star out of five rating on Yelp. A link for the establishment is for a website that is no longer active.

The Watts area became known across the country in August 1965 for fiery riots of thousands of protesters that rocked the region. The Los Angeles Times documented days of violence from weapon-wielding protesters who left police, civilians, and newsmen injured, dozens dead, and property destroyed. Pat Brown, father of current California Governor Jerry Brown, was the governor at the time. The clash took place in the same time frame as riots in Chicago. According to Times and UPI reports at the time, both the Illinois governor and Gov. Pat Brown called on National Guard troops in response to the violence.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.

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