Terry Lee Flenory is a convicted drug trafficker who founded the Black Mafia Family, a large drug trafficking organization that operated for over a decade. Often referred to as “Southwest T,” Flenory became a significant figure in organized crime and the drug trade in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Early Life and Background
Terry Lee Flenory was born in Detroit, Michigan, on January 19, 1972. He grew up in poverty in Detroit’s impoverished neighborhoods and turned to drug dealing at an early age as a way to make money. Flenory dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and devoted himself entirely to selling drugs on the streets.
By his late teens, Flenory had already built an extensive drug network in Detroit. He sold cocaine and heroin and was bringing in big profits. However, the risks of dealing drugs on the dangerous streets of Detroit eventually led Flenory to look for safer ways to conduct his drug business.
Moving the Business South
In the late 1980s, in his late teens, Flenory moved from Detroit to Alabama. He settled in Birmingham and decided to switch his drug dealing operations to the South, where he believed there would be less competition and violence.
Joining forces with his childhood friend Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory, Terry Lee built up a massive cocaine trafficking business based in Birmingham. The two friends dubbed their drug enterprise “The Black Mafia Family.”
Growth of BMF
Throughout the 1990s, the Black Mafia Family grew into one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in the United States. Terry Lee Flenory served as the brains of the operation, overseeing the big-picture vision, while Big Meech handled more of the street-level activity.
BMF developed creative ways to transport cocaine from suppliers in Los Angeles and Mexico to major cities throughout the eastern and southern United States. They used enticing women as drug mules on commercial flights and buses. BMF members also drove cross country in luxury vehicles stashing drugs and cash.
The organization invested heavily in real estate and other legitimate businesses to launder the influx of cash. By the early 2000s, BMF was bringing in, by some estimates, up to $270 million per year.
In the early 2000s, law enforcement began to catch onto BMF’s activities. In 2003, agents busted a central BMF drug ring operating in Atlanta. The additional investigation eventually led to federal prosecutors building a case against the leadership of the Black Mafia Family.
In October 2005, Terry Lee Flenory was arrested along with his brother Demetrius on charges of running a continuing criminal enterprise. Flenory attempted to fight the charges but was unable to evade conviction.
Conviction and Sentencing
In September 2008, after years of court proceedings, Terry Lee Flenory was convicted of running a drug trafficking enterprise dating back to the 1990s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine, and money laundering.
In November 2008, Flenory was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, the maximum allowable sentence. His co-defendant and brother, Big Meech, received a slightly reduced sentence of 25 years.
Life in Prison
Terry Lee Flenory is serving his 30-year sentence in a federal prison in Oregon. He will not be eligible for release until 2032 when he will be 60 years old.
While in prison, Flenory has tried to reinvent his public image and become involved in writing and advocacy work around prison reform. Despite his efforts, he remains a controversial and notorious figure in organized crime.
At the peak of its power, Terry Lee Flenory built the Black Mafia Family into a drug trafficking empire generating hundreds of millions of tax-free dollars. His decade-long run helping supply major American cities with cocaine is an infamous chapter in the ongoing story of the U.S. drug trade.
Terry Lee Flenory’s rise from poverty to extreme wealth through organized crime makes him one of the most remarkable drug kingpins of recent decades. His massive cocaine trafficking operation flooded the South and Midwest cities throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Flenory’s bold and creative approach allowed his organization to evade law enforcement for years and earn staggering profits. However, his unchecked pursuit of power and money ultimately landed him in prison with a 30-year sentence. The devastating ripple effects from Flenory supplying large amounts of cocaine onto American streets will be felt for generations. His story is a cautionary tale about the consequences of building dangerous criminal enterprises solely pursuing wealth and power.
Where did Terry Lee Flenory grow up?
Terry Lee Flenory grew up in poverty in Detroit, Michigan. He became involved in the city’s drug trade from a young age.
How did BMF transport drugs around the country?
BMF used creative techniques to secretly transport cocaine from the West Coast to cities around the South and Midwest. They hid drugs in cars and buses and used female drug mules on flights.
When was Terry Lee Flenory arrested?
Federal agents arrested Flenory in October 2005 for running a large drug trafficking organization.
How much prison time did Flenory receive?
In 2008, Flenory was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his leading role in BMF’s drug trafficking operations.
Is Terry Lee Flenory still in prison today?
Yes, Flenory remains incarcerated in a federal prison in Oregon. He will not be eligible for release until 2032 at the earliest.