Photo by Whitney Anne Ellis

Review

BMF—the Black Mafia Family—rode high, got high, and lived higher than most mobs in history. But then this hip-hop drug empire fell as quickly as it rose, at the hands of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005.

And now, in an 80-minute investigative documentary, BMF: The Rise and Fall of a Hip Hop Drug Empire, writer-director Don Sikorski tells the story of how two brothers ran the bicoastal BMF and made close to 300 million dollars trafficking cocaine between Mexico, and Los Angeles, Detroit and Atlanta. The film, which premiered September 27 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is a great documentary, composed of thrilling, sometimes-amusing, always-compelling details of the brothers’ rise through the criminal underworld. It is a thoroughly thought-provoking movie.

The film, produced by Errante Film Production, explains how Demetrius “Big Meech” and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory organized the lucrative and convoluted drug operation under a front company, the infamous BMF Entertainment, before being brought to justice by the DEA. BMF became a notorious household name in the hip-hop world. BMF took over clubs, businesses and communities. The Flenory brothers allegedly associated with Young Jeezy and Jay-Z. They flaunted drugs, money and women.

Members of the Seton Foundation: Donna Jennings, William Gault, Diane Cunningham and John and Stacey Errante at the premiere for "BMF: The Rise and Fall of a Hip Hop Empire. Photo by Whitney Anne Ellis

The documentary uses the investigative team’s perspective as a lens through which audiences can analyze the case against the BMF, but also provides a platform for former BMF members to chronicle their version of the mafia’s meteoric rise and eventual destruction in the wake of a 15-year law-enforcement investigation. BMF had 200 members and was, as one investigator put it, “a perfect mix of drugs, violence, and street cred” (even having known ties to the Mexican drug cartels) until the DEA brought it down.

Terry Flenory ran the operation from Los Angeles, bringing drugs north from Mexico, and had little taste for the “flash” that appealed to his brother Demetrius; he preferred to deal with the numbers. Demetrius, on the other hand, dealt with the day-to-day operations in Atlanta and thrived on being seen and heard. He owned multimillion dollar houses, cars and jewelry—all bought with drug money.

But then, over a decade and a half, the DEA, FBI and an elite drug task force from the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program collected more than 11,000 government documents and nearly 5,000 photographs and taped conversations, ultimately resulting in criminal charges for 41 suspects across the country. A combination of government informants, wiretaps and surveillance helped unravel the BMF web and brought down the Hip-Hop Drug Empire in what was one of the largest drug conspiracy cases ever uncovered, according to investigators. In 2005, the Flenory brothers were sentenced to 30 years in prison, thoroughly ending their reign.

John Errante, executive producer of Errante Films, decided to finance this potentially controversial film because it is intellectually provocative and has “an impact and teach us something,” and because “there are enough great elements to the story that make it a hip-hop version of ‘Scarface’.”

And he’s right. This film has big money, organized crime, fame, fortune and corruption—and enough intensity to rival even the best crime dramas for entertainment value.

—Karina Kushnerik

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