Over the last two years, rapper and entrepreneur Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and producers Randall Emmett and George Furla of EFO Films have been touting a BMF television series to be filmed in Atlanta, possibly at Fayette’s Pinewood Studio. The trio is best known for their work “Power,” which airs on Lionsgate’s Starz cable network.
BMF is an acronym for Black Mafia Family, which portrays the organized enterprise of two of America’s most wanted – the Flenory brothers. For more than a decade, the FBI, DEA, and other federal and local law enforcement agencies tracked the activities of the Flenory brothers regarding their alleged drug enterprise from Detroit to Atlanta. More than 10 state agencies engaged in surveillance. Despite eight federal indictments, the brothers were only convicted of money laundering. In 2008 the Flenory brothers pled guilty to money laundering and the judge sentenced them to serve 30 years in prison under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) laws.
According to Jackson, Emmett, and Furla, Demetrius Edward Flenory and Terry Lee Flenory are the founders of BMF. Are they correct?
Respectfully, they are incorrect. From October 20, 1970 to November 8, 1973, the FBI tracked the original “Black Mafia Family” from Philadelphia to Detroit. According to voluminous FBI reports, this organization known as “Black Mafia, Black Inc. and Black Mafia Family” had operations in over 33 major US cities from Atlanta to Cincinnati, Dallas to Memphis, and Newark to Washington. BMF also had operations in Omaha.
FBI reports cite, that the “BMF developed in much the same manner as white organized crime developed in years past.”
In my book “Motor City: The Odyssey of the War on Drugs and Two of America’s Most Wanted,” I deliver the bio-fictional story of the Flenory brothers, which is the subject of the trio’s storyline and television plot. I did not authorize either Lionsgate, Starz, or the trio to adapt the book to film or television.
My goal is that a Motor City adaptation will deliver a truthful examination of the war on drugs, the lives of those impacted by drugs and the lives of the motor city brothers.
Connections to Fayette County
Hip hop mogul and record executive William Leonard Roberts II, aka “Rick Ross,” is a resident of Fayette county. Among other properties, Roberts resides on the sprawling 235-acre estate once owned by the former heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield. In Roberts 2010 album, Teflon Don that features Styles P, he writes a song titled “Blowin Money Fast.” He raps, “I think I’m Big Meech, Larry Hoover / Whippin’ work, hallelujah / One nation, under God / Real ***** gettin’ money from the ******* start.”
He is referring to Demetrius Edward Flenory, aka Big Meech, as a self-made millionaire and businessman. He raps about the how these men created their own street economy. Roberts is a college educated man who once served as a correctional officer before starting Maybach Music company.
Conversely, the song “Blowin Money Fast” aka BMF became iconic in the world of hip hop as a reference to a “street legend.” For most Americans, paying homage to an alleged drug lord is preposterous, but the reputation of the Flenory brothers is not folklore. You see, for many urban and rural youth, the story of these men resonants because many understand their struggle to succeed against all odds. Faced with many obstacles, they used their street wits to create a street economy that opened doors to legitimate businesses.
Understanding the brothers through Motor City
Perhaps the most compelling, is the fact that many urban and rural youth consider their street economics as an educational tool to entrepreneurship and legitimate business ventures.
Both compelling and a little unsettling about how they attained their wealth is that it came at the expense of alleged drug dealing. To this end, any television or film should avoid promoting or glamorizing the criminality of drug dealing. For such reasons, Motor City strives to promote a balance of the scales of justice, while delivering a truthful examination of both the war on drugs and drug dealing in America.
In some ways, the Flenory brothers defined a new method for urban and rural youth to capitalize on their street economics and create employment and educational opportunities to avoid a life of criminality.
Inspiring new millionaires
The story of Roberts and a host of other rappers turned businessmen is that their lives epitomize both the challenges and the victory of the Flenory brothers.
In some sense, the story of the BMF aka Motor City has been haunting to families adversely impacted by drugs and drug abuse in America. This is particularly true as Georgia faces an opioid epidemic.
What does the story about the Flenory brothers mean 10 years later? It depends upon which lens is used to tell the story. The Motor City story could teach urban and rural youth to avoid a life of criminal activity, strive for education, and use their street wits to improve their personal and professional lives. It can give guidance to politicians about how the war on drugs has created prisoners of war. Long-term sentencing and mandatory minimums have not proven to be a successful deterrent. Moreover, their story about the Flenory brothers could teach youth how to become business savvy through the implementation of legal street economics.
The Flenory Brothers today
Their life lesson is particularly resonant right now as America examines prison reform and the impact of mandatory prison terms.
So, 10 years later, the Flenory brothers have served a decade in prison. People are still discussing their journey from Detroit to Atlanta, and many are questioning how they became two of America’s most wanted. For many, their journey is a prime example of the power of education, employment, and fight for equality and economic empowerment. For others, it is a story about the pitfalls that people should avoid and the trappings of life.
Told through the lens of Motor City, the story of the Flenory brothers is a guide to edification and understanding. Balancing the scales of justice creates real power not simply made for television.
Filming in Fayette and Atlanta is a gateway to truthful storytelling, but also will garner financial perks for the state of Georgia. Hopefully, Motor City will make its way into your home and together we can teach a new generation about the Flenory brothers through a lens of understanding life and avoiding criminal activity.