Two weeks after state and federal agents descended on the White House and a month after a high-profile club shooting left Sean "P. Diddy" Combs's former bodyguard dead, Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory was granted bond. It was an unusual move in a double homicide, especially one that had grown so sensational. In the wake of the shootings, well-heeled and well-organized residents of Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood were angrily calling for a crackdown on the violence in their neighborhood.
Basically, the Chaos gun battle wasn't the type of crime the Fulton County D.A.'s office liked to leave unresolved. But prosecutors were left with little choice. Their investigation into Meech was simply too thin. No grand jury would indict a case without a murder weapon, a witness, or a confession. Indeed, the case never made it to the grand jury. The most that could be concluded was that Meech acted in self-defense, if he acted at all.
To Big Meech and his crew, to residents of Buckhead, and to other concerned Atlantans, the Chaos investigation appeared to be a battle the authorities had lost. But while the murder case against Meech had fallen apart, the Atlanta Police Department and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were able to take what they learned from the White House search and combine it with other information they'd already unearthed. Judging from the breadth of the evidence, investigators were able to see that they were on to something. It was something big. It was something organized. It was something called, formidably enough, the Black Mafia Family.
Formed in mid-1990s Atlanta by ambitious, Detroit-born hustler Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory, the Black Mafia Family controlled most of the American cocaine trade for the better part of a decade. Interviewing members from all levels of the national organization, including now-imprisoned Big Meech, Atlanta-based journalist Shalhoup delivers a stunning exposé of a crime empire that collapsed under the weight of its own success, rising and falling on its charismatic founder's desperate desire for success, popularity, and, ultimately, music-business legitimacy. Shalhoup examines each character in the federal prosecution's comprehensive case, tracing their activities over many years, revealing a lifestyle of over-the-top glamour punctuated by random, brutal violence. Shalhoup quickly, and graphically, dispels the air of hip-hop romance that Big Meech cultivated first through crime and, later, by playing a supporting role in the careers of up-and-coming rappers like T.I. and Jeezy. With superb pacing and a thorough handle on her extensive cast, Shalhoup's true crime debut makes a highly addictive read. Color photos.
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