In 2005, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began indicting members of the Black Mafia Family (BMF) in connection with a multi-state drug distribution ring, targeting over 150 members of the gang. Having strong connections with Mexican based cartels, the group is alleged to have laundered over $270 million. At the top of the gang’s hierarchy were two brothers who were able to set up a bi-coastal operation after starting small as youngsters on the streets of Detroit, Michigan.
After beginning simply selling $50 bags of cocaine in the 1990’s, brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory had become distribution kingpins buy the year 2000 with cocaine distribution cells located in at least 12 states. Big Meech had taken to the southeast, setting up shop in Atlanta, Georgia, while Southwest T had headed west to Los Angeles, California. While the drug money was piling up, the brothers started legitimate businesses to launder it through, most notably, BMF Entertainment which helped promote a number of rap artists.
After the two brothers had a falling out, the DEA was able to put together over 900 pages of wiretaps transcripts which had been placed on their sister’s phone, revealing her conversations with Terry. During the calls, they had discussed Big Meech at length including how his partying would eventually bring down the business enterprise. In 2005, the evidence had mounted and the brothers were placed under arrest for multiple charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering.
In 2007 both brothers were sentenced to 30 year prison terms for their parts in running the BMF drug trafficking business. While Big Meech waits in jail for his 2032 release date, he has taken to writing letters seeking help from one of raps most influential names, Russell Simmons. The Co-Founder of Def Jam music label and Phat Farm clothing line, Simmons seems to be Big Meech’s last hope of finding a big name to try and lobby for him. He argues that “My brother and I are first-time non-violent offenders and our 30 yr. sentences are worse than some Columbian and Mexican cartel members.” The reason for the stiff punishment can be traced back to former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller who said “For drug pushing, life sentence, no parole, no probation.” His statement helped form what would become the norm for the prison system in the United States. Until 2009 when the law was amended, drug dealers received mandatory sentences of 15 years to life for their wrong doings.
As of 2013 Big Meech was still doing hard time in a Florence, Colorado prison that is considered the worst and most secure prison in the entire Bureau of Prisons. His wife Janell has started a petition for the White House to set him free.