The Black Mafia, also known as the Philadelphia Black Mafia (PBM), Black Muslim Mafia and Muslim Mob, was a Philadelphia-based African-American organized crime syndicate. The organization began as a small criminal collective, known for holding up neighborhood craps games and dealing in the illegal drug business, but at its height of operation until about 1975, it managed to consolidate power and control a large portion of criminal activity in various African-American neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley, and South Jersey, including Atlantic City. In addition to drug trafficking, burglary, and armed robbery, the Black Mafia was also engaged in traditional organized crime activities such as extortion, racketeering, prostitution, loansharking, number running and other illegal gambling rackets.
Allegedly formed in September 1968 by Samuel Christian, who later adopted the name Suleiman Bey under the Nation of Islam, the Black Mafia was heavily involved in a large part of drug trafficking in Philadelphia during the 1970s, with heroin being the most trafficked drug. Christian, a former Black Panther with an extensive arrest record, was an imposing man: 5’10’ tall and described as a “thick-necked, powerfully-built, 215-pound bully.” Additional founding members included Ronald Harvey, Henry Dabney, Richard “Pork Chops” James, Donald “Donnie” Day, Clyde “Apples” Ross, Robert “Bop Daddy” Fairbanks, Craig “Heist” Jones, Walter Hudgins, Robert “Nudie” Mims amongst others. Many of the original members eventually became Nation of Islam members or converted to Islam, giving the organization the nickname of “the Muslim Mafia” or “the Muslim Mob.”
The Black Mafia gained power in local neighborhoods by intimidating people to prevent anyone from reporting the group’s activities to the police. Because of this, police had incredible difficulty taking any action on the gang or any of its members for years after their conception. Members participated in holding up crap games and extorting drug dealers, working as numbers men and illegitimate businessmen. Over the course of their control, the Black Mafia was responsible for over 40 murders and countless other crimes. Each founder had extensive arrest records, with most cases involving violence. Law enforcement officials had difficulties prosecuting members of the group, however, because witnesses would rarely cooperate, fearing retaliation, and cases were dropped more often than not. This not only permitted the offenders to continue their criminal activities, but also allowed their reputations of being “untouchable” to flourish, thus enhancing their influence on the street.

last edited by Sarah