The Black Mafia Family was one of the largest drug-running organizations in U.S. history. It formed in the late 80s in Detroit and operated its distribution hub in Atlanta through the 90s and early 2000s. Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory ran BMF’s distribution here, and his brother, Terry "Southwest T" Flenory, handled supply from Mexico into Los Angeles.
Eight years ago, on Sept. 12, 2008, the brothers were sentenced to 30 years in jail. Though they're behind bars now, the BMF brand survives in music and pop culture.
That's according to author Mara Shaloup, who literally wrote the book on the matter. It's called "BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family."
The Black Mafia Family was estimated to have moved about a quarter-billion dollars in drugs. The supply came from Mexico to L.A., and Atlanta served as BMF’s distribution hub for U.S operations. About 500 people worked for BMF in multiple states.
BMF Entertainment was the organization’s music label. It operated out of Atlanta and was Big Meech’s pet project. Drug money funded BMF Entertainment recordings – along with billboards, T-shirts and parties at clubs that audaciously marketed the BMF brand. BMF Entertainment only had one artist signed to the label, Bleu DaVinci.
"It was really two things at once and going big at both of them,” Shaloup says of BMF’s drug and music operations.
Wiretap evidence authorities got on Southwest T coupled with Big Meech’s flashy behavior helped bring down BMF. Hundreds of BMF members got indicted and, eventually, people started to turn on the brothers.
Shaloup met Big Meech when he was behind bars, and she says he’s “very charming, very smart.”
“I could see very clearly how he was perhaps a bit chameleon-like,” she says.
BMF survives today in music and pop culture. Notably, Drake rapped about BMF in his 2015 song "Ten Bands" with the words: “Take a flick. I look like Meechy, look like Bleu DaVinci.”
“That brand … still has meaning,” Shaloup says.
She says she doesn’t think the drug-running side of the Black Mafia Family exists today. Bleu DaVinci and other BMF members are out of jail and carrying on the name, but not with a drug ring like in the 90s.
As for why BMF’s legacy continues, “It was kind of like a weird Robin Hood mentality around them.” Shaloup says. “The BMF lifestyle represented success that wasn’t otherwise available to people who ultimately joined the organization.”
Shaloup is quick to say she doesn’t recommend the lifestyle BMF represented. She says, really, it can’t last.