"The BMF Documentary" Digs Deeper Into the True Story of the Notorious Black Mafia Family
After captivating audiences with season one of "BMF," the dramatized retelling of how two Detroit brothers (Demetrius "Big Meech" and Terry "Southwest" Flenory) created one of America's most notorious and influential crime families, Starz has given the real-life story the documentary treatment.
"The BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast" recalls the epic rise and fall of the infamous Black Mafia Family, aka the massive empire that rose from the streets of Detroit and formed one of the most notable drug-trafficking networks in the country. With stories from associates, insiders, Flenory family members, and celebrity figures, the eight-part docuseries covers the full arc of the Black Mafia Family's story we have yet to hear straight from direct sources.
Leading up to "BMF"'s second season, which stars Big Meech's son, Demetrius "Lil Meech" Flenory Jr., as himself and premieres in January, Starz rolled out half-hour episodes of a documentary that walks viewers through the Flenory brothers' early Detroit days, the Black Mafia Family's rise in the early '80s, peak in the late '90s, downfall in 2006, and cultural influence that's still celebrated today. The docuseries also includes an update on where the organization and some of its key players are today — including Big Meech, who lends commentary throughout the documentary as he continues to serve his 30-year sentence at the Federal Detention Center in Sheridan, OR.
Meech and Terry were both arrested by the DEA in 2007 for the organization's drug operations. Terry, who also received a 30-year sentence, was released on compassionate release on May 5, 2020, due to medical conditions that put him at risk of death from COVID-19. Meech, on the other hand, was denied his appeal for compassionate release and is expected to be released from prison on May 5, 2029, per the documentary.
So far, Starz's "BMF" drama has only scraped the surface of the Black Mafia Family's story, as season two is expected to dig into the beginning of the organization's expansion to other cities, including Atlanta. But if you can't wait for the dramatized series's 2023 return, read ahead to find out all the revelations we've learned from "The BMF Documentary."
"The BMF Documentary" Episodes 1 and 2: "Detroit Dreams" and "Gangster Boogie"
- "BMF"'s portrayal of Lamar Silas is almost identical to the character's real-life inspiration. Layton Simon, referred to in the docuseries as the "No. 1 villain" in the first couple chapters of the Black Mafia Family's story, had a notorious reputation for being "unstable" and "unhinged" and for causing "hair-trigger violence" — much like "BMF"'s antagonist, Lamar (played by Eric Kofi-Abrefa), who was known for being trigger happy and an all-out menace in the series.
- Just like "BMF"'s Lamar, Layton was also allegedly obsessed with taking down the Flenory brothers — mainly, Big Meech. According to the docuseries, before the Flenory brothers took over Detroit's streets, Layton was in control of them, so he, of course, didn't like when they invaded his territory. And at some point, according to a family friend, he found himself obsessed with the idea of killing Big Meech. "It was Layton looking for Demetrius. That was the only thing on his mind. You know, he trying to kill us," says family friend Roland West, who also recalls a time when Layton allegedly followed Big Meech in his car and pulled a gun on the two of them.
- Big Meech and Layton's beef was allegedly fueled by the two romancing the same women. Not only were Big Meech and Layton both in the drug game in the same city, they were also romantically involved with some of the same women, which journalist and organized crime historian Scott Burnstein says played "a big role in their rivalry." West recalls a verbal confrontation between the two that ensued at a local bar, where Layton and his brother were both shot, the latter of which died. It's unclear who the shooter was or whom they were associated with. According to Troy Benford, a childhood friend of the Flenory brothers, Layton's issue with Big Meech allegedly "became an all-out vengeance from that point forward."
- E.D. Boyd, founder of the 50 Boyz crew, gave the Flenory brothers his blessing to start their own drug operation. Unlike Wood Harris's Pat in Starz's "BMF," meant to be a portrayal of Boyd, who gave the Flenory brothers a hard time about them outgrowing their roles in his crew, Boyd IRL claimed he had no problem with the two building up their own empire. "I gave them all the respect and said, 'Look, do what you do, man,'" he says in the documentary. "'That's what you was raised to do. In this game, be a boss, and I see you ready for it — go for it.'"
- Big Meech survived a near-fatal shooting incident with Layton. In the documentary, West recalls the time when he and Big Meech were cornered by Layton in the parking lot at Detroit's Coney Island, where the latter allegedly pulled out a gun on them and shot up their vehicle. West says no bullets hit him, but Big Meech took several. West, having no gun at the time, says Big Meech pushed him out of the car and drove off. He was later pulled over by the police, who took him to the hospital, per a phone call from Big Meech.
"The BMF Documentary" Episodes 3 and 4: "The South's Got Something to Say" and "The World Is BMF’s"
- Big Meech molded his street persona based on other well-known crime bosses. According to Burnstein, Big Meech studied all the pioneers of organized crime, both real-life and fictional (Al Pacino, Tony Montana, Alejandro Sosa), as his reputation in the drug game grew. From them, he learned what to do and what not to do to build BMF into a drug empire.
- BMF hired mechanic specialists to hide their drug transports from law enforcement. In order to move drugs in their cars, BMF enlisted the help of mechanics to retrofit new limos and install secret compartments in them to conceal their product. "They turned hiding drugs in vehicles into an art form," Burnstein says in the documentary.
- The name BMF was born out of a lack of existing Black mafias. BMF conducted itself like a family compared to other drug organizations, so Big Meech chose a name to reflect that. "We heard there was really no Black Mafia," he says in the documentary. BMF member Wayne Joyner adds, "They got Russian mafias, Bulgarian mafias, Jewish mafias — what about us?" And so the Black Mafia Family was born.
- Big Meech boasted a very high-profile image despite being on law enforcement's radar. Big Meech's successful drug business fueled his passion for establishing legitimate businesses that could offer him the same affluent lifestyle — including his record label, BMF Entertainment. His flashy image eventually caught the attention of law enforcement, but he continued to seek public recognition despite still selling drugs. Big Meech even went as far as putting up billboards around Atlanta to advertise BMF Entertainment (which was funded by drug money) — one of which was placed right near a district attorney's office.
"The BMF Documentary" Episodes 5 and 6: "Club Chaos" and "Time to Run"
- Members of BMF were heavily influenced by HBO's "The Wire." Both BMF and local Atlanta law enforcement were fans of "The Wire" during the crime drama's run in the early 2000s. Members of BMF were actually inspired by some of the characters on the show, who mimicked their drug dealings and operation to the point that they allegedly critiqued their own strategies based on what was shown in the series. However, one mistake they made was underestimating the power of the Atlanta Police Department. They thought the department was "too country" to utilize the wiretaps featured on the show. But the APD did, however, have their own wiretaps on BMF — many of which allegedly caught Terry discussing drug business in detail.
- The feud between Big Meech and Terry started after the Club Chaos shooting. Big Meech's arrest for the double homicide shooting that took place at Club Chaos in Atlanta infuriated Terry because he thought his brother was bringing unnecessary attention from law enforcement to BMF. Fed up with Big Meech's flamboyant ways, Terry started making independent decisions about their business — including allegedly cutting into the organization's drug product to make more — which eventually drove a wedge between the two siblings.
- Terry's 34th birthday marked the end of the Flenory brothers' partnership. The feud between Big Meech and Terry came to a head at the latter's birthday party, where the two allegedly got into a violent altercation. "From that point forward, Terry and Demetrius were no longer doing business together, no longer spoke to each other, and would only communicate through intermediaries," Burnstein explains in the documentary.
"The BMF Documentary" Episodes 7 and 8: "Thunderstorms in the Forecast" and "Legacy"
- Big Meech went on the run and moved to Miami once BMF quarters started getting raided. Once the heat from law enforcement came down on the organization, Big Meech and his assistant, Yogi, fled Georgia and moved down to Miami to evade arrests. However, Big Meech continued to flaunt his flamboyant lifestyle.
- Big Meech continued to promote BMF Entertainment amid his run from law enforcement. Despite knowing he was already on law enforcement's radar for drug trafficking, Big Meech's affluent living didn't end. In fact, he even began promoting BMF, disguised as his record label, at a popular Miami nightclub called Crobar where Sunday nights were declared "BMF Night."
- Big Meech stayed committed to the drug game because he wanted to ensure his BMF crew members were taken care of. At the time, Big Meech could've walked away from BMF before getting tied up by the DEA, but he remained the head of his drug organization because he cared for his crew members and what would happen to them if he were arrested. "He said, 'I don't wanna not ever go to jail. I wanna have the foresight and the knowledge to know before they're coming so I can have everybody set up and situated,'" Yogi recalls. Big Meech also adds, "I got so much love for my people that I don't want nobody else to go down and catch no time."
- Over 20 leaks in BMF led to numerous arrests within the organization. A BMF soldier by the name of Omari "O-Dog" McCree was arrested and questioned by the police about Big Meech and the organization's drug dealings, which he allegedly laid out in detail for law enforcement. According to retired Atlanta police officer Bryant Burns, McCree's leak led to a domino effect in BMF — 20 other domino effects, to be exact — which helped investigators build their case against BMF. In the end, it led to seizures of BMF assets, as well as Terry and Big Meech's arrests.
- The DEA initially didn't have a strong case against Big Meech. Although Big Meech was the head of BMF, investigators didn't have much physical evidence of him ever being around drugs — including photos and wiretaps, unlike his brother, Terry, who was frequently caught on the latter. However, the two brothers allegedly never paying income taxes for the millions of dollars they flaunted over the years raised a major red flag for money laundering. In 2006, BMF's chief financial officer, William "Doc" Marshall, handed law enforcement all financial documents tied to the organization, helping them build a stronger conspiracy case against Big Meech and Terry.
- Law enforcement allegedly tried to get Big Meech and Terry to flip on each other at trial. On Nov. 9, 2007, the rivaled Flenory brothers requested a face-to-face conversation the day their trial began for the first time in almost two years. Their meeting together allegedly included a screaming match overheard by DEA and FBI agents, according to Burnstein, who thought they could convince Terry to flip on his brother to get Big Meech convicted.
- Big Meech says he has no regrets about the downfall of BMF. After all the arrests and fallout of his organization, Big Meech says he "wouldn't change nothing" about what he did before being sentenced to 30 years in prison. "Everything was a learning experience," he adds in the documentary. "I wouldn't change not one loss, not one bullet wound. Not nothing, good or bad. I'm proud of me. I was the man I always wanted to be . . . just 'cause you go to prison don't mean it's the end of your story."
All episodes of "The BMF Documentary" are now streaming on Starz.