June 10, 2020 – The blueprint for what Black Mafia Family became was inspired by a number of people in the Flenory brothers’ past, as well as another pair of equally visionary crews from their hometown. “BMF” rose from humble beginnings in Detroit in the late 1980s and early 1990s to dominate the American cocaine trade in the New Millennium with satellite outfits set up in nearly half of the 50 states and by sheer will and ingenuity, force it’s way to the forefront of hip-hop culture and the drug game simultaneously nationwide.

Demetrius (Big Meech) Flenory, 51, is awaiting word from U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson if he will be granted a compassionate release amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. His younger brother, Terry (Southwest T) Flenory, 50, was sprung six years early via a compassionate release last month and is on home confinement in Michigan.

The Flenorys were busted and their groundbreaking drug organization dismantled courtesy of the DEA’s epic Operation Motor City Mafia case in October 2005. They both pleaded guilty two years later and received 30-year prison sentences. At the time of their arrests, Big Meech was living in Atlanta and Southwest T was based out of California, keeping tabs on affairs in BMF’s central transit hub back home in Detroit through buffers.

Southwest T got six years shaved off his sentence in 2018. If Judge Lawson doesn’t let Big Meech out on his current motion, he won’t be slated for release until late 2031.

Several rap stars, L.L. Cool J, T.I., Fabolous and 50 Cent, among them, have campaigned for Big Meech’s release for years, citing his status as a non-violent offender despite his enormous notoriety as an iconic crime lord, name-checked in countless hip-hop music tracks. 50 Cent is producing a scripted television show on the rise and fall of the Flenorys and their BMF empire for the Starz cable network.

DEA files paint a picture of the Flenory brothers younger days through intelligence gleaned from confidential informants and government surveillance logs:

In 1986, Big Meech and Southwest T joined the 50 Boys gang and were mentored by 50 Boys boss, Edrick (E.D.) Boyd, who claimed territory on the near southwest side of Detroit. Per DEA records, the Flenorys set up and ran 50 Boys blocks in the area and helped Boyd establish new turf in the hardscrabble, assembly-line suburbs of Ecorse, Willow Run, River Rouge and Inkster.

Boyd was schooled in the dope game by former Young Boys, Incorporated lieutenant Norman (Sneed) Johnson, according to his DEA file. “YBI” controlled the Motown heroin industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s from the city’s Westside with panache and brute-strength power, using elementary school-aged kids and their playgrounds to peddle their exquisitely marketed dope and teenage hit men to enforce their orders on the street. Johnson was slain in February 1984 as fissures in the YBI leadership structure broke into violence.

Retired federal agent Frank Scartozzi believes the Flenory brothers adapted the best things about the Detroit drug gangs of his youth, while shedding many of the negative aspects those crack era groups exhibited, when crafting their own business plan and deciding how to build BMF.

“I think Meech and Terry learned what to do and what not do to from those groups in the 80s, those guys had vision, but they had relatively short runs on top and many of them undermined their own cause by valuing violence over business. Meech was all about business over beefs…..YBI was around for five years, made a big splash. BMF had a 15-year run and out-sized YBI significantly in terms of scope and impact.”

When Big Meech and Southwest T went off on their own in 1990 to form what eventually turned into BMF, they locked down a “plug” with Southwest Detroit drug boss Rodolfo (Bolo) Moreno-Ponce, per DEA records. Most of Southwest Detroit is run by Latino gangs and Moreno-Ponce and his Bolo Boys crew had taken over much of the city’s cocaine economy in the early 1990s in the wake of many of the largest African-American drug syndicates of the crack era either self-destructing or being leveled by law enforcement.

The Flenorys were also taking counsel from the old Davis Family Gang, another Westside operation, which had a reign from 1974 until 1984 and touched four different continents around the world. The DEA called the “DFG” the most sophisticated and internationally-connected drug ring in American history. Big Meech communicated with DFG bosses Reggie (Doc) Davis and Duane (Skinny D) Davis in prison and picked their brains for inspiration, per sources.

Big Meech’s diplomatic approach to leadership in BMF was inspired by Doc Davis, who was known as an underworld statesman and preached violence being used as only a last resort measure. Doc Davis got out of prison in 1996 and owns real estate.

“As much as everybody liked and respected Meech, at a certain point, he had trouble keeping his head down, being low key,”. Scartozzi said. “He had a long run without anybody really knowing who he was and then a short run once people did. His own behavior related to the flashiness and the throwing money in the air, brought us to his doorstep. He avoided the YBI-style squabbling and violence for the most part, but his ego was ultimately his worst enemy. Meech built BMF in the shadows and then tanked it when he wanted to market it in order for the world to see what a big deal he was.”

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