"Bring up the subject of organized crime in the city, and the first and only thing most people think of is the decades-long Bruno-through-Merlino Italian mob from South Philadelphia. But from roughly 1968 through 1984, organized crime also flourished in many of the city's African-American neighborhoods, most of it under the average Philadelphian's radar. "The Black Mafia ran the heroin trade in the city," says Sean Griffin, a former Philadelphia policeman and the author of Philadelphia's 'Black Mafia', a new book that combines gritty street reporting with extensive scholarly research. "They were ruthless and ultra violent. They ruled major sections of the city, and yet somehow today it's as if they never existed." Griffin's reporting on the Black Mafia and its interaction with law enforcement, the Nation of Islam and the Italian mob is fascinating."
"Using the federal corruption probe as prologue and epilogue, Griffin presents a confident chronicle of Philly's Black Mafia, the decades-long collaboration among drug dealers, Muslim clerics and local politicians. But those seeking a compact history of how Shamsud-din Ali ended up in the slammer won't find it here. Griffin, a Penn State-Abington criminologist, is enamored of his research, and every bit player gets his due. Bruno, Scarfo and Simone stand in the shadows throughout, and are a foil as Griffin disassembles the racist calumny about black crime: that it is violence born of convenience. Griffin punctures that myth with a salient detail that shows a criminal outfit highly organized: At early Black Mafia meetings, minutes were taken."