Inside the Black Gangster Disciple Nation Crack Cocaine Gang-Corporation

In less than 24 hours I completed Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything. Mark Safranski already summarized Freakonomics better than I could, so my “buy this book” post will be a graphical summary of one of the chapters: Why Do Drug Dealers Still With Their Moms?

A heroic grad student named Sudhir Venkatesh worked with a crack cocaine gang — the Black Gangster Disciple Nation — for several years. After attempting to pass out a survey, which began

How do you feel about being black and poor?

(a) Very bad
(b) Bad
(c) Neither bad nor good
(d) Somewhat Good
(e) Very good

Which, besides displaying a lack of symmetry between (b) and (d), left off the correct answer ((f) Fuck you) and almost got young Sudhir killed.

Slowly, though, Sudhir gained their trust, and discovered the corporate structure of the street toughts.

At the top of the pinacle where the Board of Directors, whose twenty boardmen each earned half a million dollars a year. Life was good for a Director

bgdn_board_of_directors_md
20-man Board of Directors, at $500,000 per annum = $10,000,000 annual expense for BGDN

Below the Board of Directors are the regional Franchisees. Operating like Sheiks, they grossed around $400,000 a year. However, with the Franchisee’s autonomy comes fiscal responsibility. Most of the franchisee’s income has to be spent on expenses, letting the franchisee net $100,000 a year.

bgdn_franchisee_md
100 Franchisees, at $100,00 per annum = $10,000,000 annual expense for BGND

The Franchise of the Black Gangster Disciple Nation studied then had three officers: An Enforcer, who shared acted like Barnett’s SysAdmin, maintaining peace from internal threats

bgdn_enforcer_md
The SysAdmin

A treasurer who, just like in Hall Governments, kept charge of the organization’s money

bgdn_treasurer_md
The Money Man

And a Runner, in charge of logistics.

bgdn_runner_md
Amateurs Talk Strategy, Professionals Talk Logistics

The annual salary of three officers was $8,000 per year each.

bgdn_officers_md
$8000 / officer / year * 3 officers / franchise * 100 franchises = $2,400,000 / year expense for BGDN

Below the officers were 500 Foot Soldiers. But like the groundtroops of the System Administrator, their job is not violence. As the local Franchisee reported:

We try to tell these shorties that they belong to a serious organization… It ain’t all about killing. They see these movies and shit, and they think it’s all about running around tearing shit up. But it’s not. You’ve got to learn to be part of an organization; you can’t be fighting all the time. It’s bad for business.

Like Barnett’s SysAdmin, the foot soldiers are mostly “private sector” — their true job is salesman. Each of the 50 Foot Soldiers earned $3,960 (yes, much less than minimum wage) every year.

bgdn_foot_soldier_md
$3,960 / foot soldier / year * 50 foot soldiers / franchise * 100 franchises = $19,800,000 annual expense for BGDN

Below the Foot Soldiers are 200 “rank and file.” These interns wish to rise to the level of Foot Soldier, and pay dues for the chance to one-day rise up the corporate ladder.

bgdn_rank_file_md
$25.50 / R&F / year * 200 R&F / franchise * 100 franchises = $510,000 annual revenue for BGDN

To graph annual income, for an average Director, an average Franchisee, and average Officer, an average Foot Soldier, and an average Rank & File:

Graphically, we can chart the organization structure as:

bgdn_hierarchy
Corporate Hierarchy

Or more traditionally, looking at the organizational structure as a “flow of security”

bgdn_security
Flow of Security

Realizing we can look at the “hierarchy” as just one type of flow, it becomes obvious we can chart the “flow of capital” as well:

bgdn_capital
Flow of Capital

Which opens questions about the political economy of crack cocaine gangs…

bgdn_rich
Suffocated by Fat Cats…

However, in Black Gangster Disciple Nation’s defense, foot soldiers do make up the single largest payroll expense for their gang

bgdn_payroll_md
…Or Starved By Labor?

One might note that if the Black Gangster Disciple Nation is typical of corporate-style crime, John Robb’s suggestions are dangerously wrong.

Interested in learning more? Buy the book.

Update: Stephen J. Dubner, a highly respected journalist and co-author of Freakonomics, was kind enough to link to me on the Freakonomics blog

Dr. Steven D. Levitt, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, as well as the other co-author of Freakonomics, was kind enough to comment below.

Update: Over at John Robb, Jamie links to this critique of this gangster of Freakonomics

They do present some anecdotal evidence that the gangsters were not well paid that doesn’t depend on the notebooks, but it’s if anything even weaker. The simple fact that someone lives with his mother is not actually knockdown proof that he is strapped for cash; something like thirty per cent of young Italian men do it for the simple reason that it’s better than cooking and cleaning for yourself. I also think it’s quite naïve to assume that when the gang members (who were, we shall remember, full-time drug dealers) asked Venkatesh to try and get them a janitorial job at the university, this showed that anything, even cleaning toilets on minimum wage, was a better life than the Gangster Disciples. I am hardly the most streetwise guy around, but even I can work out a couple of other possible reasons why a full time drug dealer might want a job which allowed him to wander round a university campus more or less at will. Students buy drugs[5].

Furthermore, even if we take the numbers in the notebooks as reliable, we are faced with the observable fact that crack dealers (even street soldiers) have expensive tastes and hobbies. Even leaving aside the question of trainers and jewelery (on which I have no hard data about ownership to argue against Levitt), it is an undeniable fact that even the most junior members of the Gangster Disciples were able to engage in the hobby of pistol shooting, a popular but expensive middle-class pastime which I would consider to normally be beyond the means of a burger-flipper at McDonalds. The non-salary compensation of JT’s street dealers might be really quite high; access to guns, free admission to nightclubs, favorable deals on stolen goods and clothing, regular social events with local rappers, it all adds up and compares really quite well to the fast food trade, and as far as I can see the informal healthcare plan was also quite generous compared to most mainstream employers in that it covered family members and had substantial death-in-service benefits which would have been worth quite a lot in a neighborhood that was not exactly Hampstead even for non-gang members. I find the seeming absence of any analysis of the non-salary component of compensation quite strange, particularly since the underlying work was done working with a sociologist who would at least have some analytical framework which one might use to measure the value of the benefit to the gang member of being in a gang and thus having some degree of status in a community where status mattered.

Read the whole thing

Interested in the graphics used in this post? Inkscape, OpenClipart, OpenOffice Draw, and Paint.Net are all free — as in speech!

89 thoughts on “Inside the Black Gangster Disciple Nation Crack Cocaine Gang-Corporation”

  1. AS A WHITE MEMBER IN IMPERIAL DISCIPLE'S…I AM PROUD TO BE IN THIS ORGANIZATION. HAVE BEEN SINCE 1993. I WEAR MY COLORS PROUD STILL TO THIS DAY, I'LL NEVER STOP. I LOVE MY BROTHERS OF STRUGGLE, AND WILL DIE FOR THEM. I SEND MY REGARDS TO “KING:LARRY HOOVER” I LOVE YOU, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP BROTHER-7-4. WRITE ME, IF YOU READ THIS, I GOT YOUR BACK ANYWAY I CAN.

  2. AND ONE MORE THING….WE ARE NOT…A CRACK/COCAINE GANG… MUTHA FUCKER DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR FUCKIN WITH? BETTER WATCHA' MOUTH ABOUT A SUBJECT, YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T KNOW A DAMN THING ABOUT. WE RESPECT OUR COMMUNITIES AND WE RAISE OUR CHILDREN WITH RESPECT. SO BOW-DOWN BEFORE YOU GET LAID DOWN…TRICK!!!!! 7-4/2-15-19/ 11:16–FOREVER AND ETERNAL.I LOVE YOU… B.O.S. AND S.O.S.

  3. i am old school devoted since quoted since 1984 i want to start a crew here in cincinnati but real brothers are hard to find i still talk to some of my brothers i am going to start writing on this space somethin called runnin it wher i would talk in a ryhming way any thing that comes to my head starting oct-12 2007

  4. I Have been a G since 1999 but I have been practicing our principles my whole life. and there are too many people calling themselves G's nowadays disrespecting by snorting drugs and not living there life to prosper how can I find by real brothas and sistas out there?

  5. Iam also a white folks retired BOS but never off count.I agree that the newer generation of youngsters is staining the true meaning of the new concept.They get the wrong impressions from the start and won't adhere to the laws&polices set forth by our chairman and executive staff.But i believe it's all in how the minds of the youth work and that they are not fully developed to take on simple laws and responsibilities and learn about education,politics…It all seems pointless to them at young ages ,to them it won't buy that coat or those jordans.Chief said he is trying to wake that sleeping giant”meaning:the youth and there stupidity”.We need more littiture teachers out there teaching the true meaning of our concepts with promises of a better future for the orginization and the individual.Can't never knock the hustle in the midst of the whirlwind and learning though,all people do what they gotta to stay alive and feed there families as a human.74-14 -4-Life!! Free Larry hoover,Free Panama,Free Big Black,Free Speedy.
    Spring-G | East st.louis illinois.

  6. yo wat it G like gangsters im 74 GD im on my way to da top as well i use to be 274 BGD i got swirched ova cuz my director wasnt wat he wuz claimen to be he violated big time now i got my own crew and da money,power and respect has twisted it sekf right into my hands i gotta tell u i ain't even graduate cuz i got put out cuz a motherfucking slob said some i aint like so 4 him being wat he iz i took hiz ass off da map.74-4.10-Gs and 2.15.19-(R.I.P and love KING DAVID) and LONNIE “popp” RICHARDS WILLIAMS.GD til da world blow

  7. It is a ittle dangerous bein in a gang cause people will be lookin for u.And if they don't find u they'll go for ur family then but thats why u got to have ur homies next to u to fight.

  8. SUP FOLKS SGDn TIll DA WORLD BLOW AMOR TO ALL THA BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF DA STRUGGLE . SPANISH GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

  9. (6 PLEDGE) The night I was born Folks was the night I died. As my brethren cast my body into the lake of Fire and Knowledge I was baptized. One with my nation by my Kings blessed. With a Pitchfork in my hand and a Six on my chest. Others will speak my name and know the name of Death. I live by the Nations laws, die by the Disciples Creed. Loyal to my Nation, loyal to my breed. The day my Flag falls then so does my body fall. But my Nation will always stand in the shine of the Six. All is One, One is All!

  10. ima ride or die for my niggaz and i aint scared to put my finger on da trigga peace and love nigga we gon raise da six drop da 5

  11. “waz poppin to all my 2.15.19 n 19.15.19 fucc all slo6^s”

    I assume that means “no.”

    It's been a fun ride, but I'm closing comments to this thread now.

  12. Hello Everyone. I Am A Gangsta Disciple Out Of Memphis,TN. Now I Am Dissapointed At Some Of My FOLKS for arguing with these ignorant ass people. We Are True GDs And We Know What We Stand For. All Is One.
    King Hoover Would be Dissapointed If He Were To See This. We Are Growth And Development And Growth And Development At Best.
    We Are Not “Gang Bangers”! Thats Those Dumb Ass Crips And Bloods.
    We Are Intelligent. So To All My Brothers And Sisters Of The Struggle 16.13.12 And Keep It Straight Gangsta.

    From TUTU G And H.O.O.D,

    G Easy

  13. III am an gangsta desciple outta Rockford Illinois we all kno we gangsta desciple why we all sittin here tellin them how we supposed to run our operation but they dnt go to them uss as kkk n try to learn there operation but we all kno how we live and we all kno how we ride growth and development to tha fullest so why do we keep tellin these crackers our buisness we all together as a family u do for the family n the family do for u so all my brothers and sisters 16.13.12 so keep it hood n we gon keep growin and developein

  14. I have read all of the comments by the BOS, BGD, etc. members writing to this blog, and unfortunately only one of you makes any sense. Brothers To a Positive Direction sounds as though he is the only one of you that is capable of writing a complete sentence. He is also the only one capable of putting his thoughts into an understandable paragraph.
    Many of you talk about the injustice of the world and how the BGDN will help you overcome without being involved in criminal activity. Please explain how you will earn money if you aren’t literate. If you cannot communicate without using shorthand terms like “cuz” and strings of numerals, how can you expect to gain long term employment?
    Larry Hoover has done nothing for you, the black community, and impoverished people. If you think he has, then why are you still uneducated and living in a ghetto? (and most of you cannot deny this)
    You are the only person that can improve your lot in life. Belonging to an organization that kills, sells drugs, sells women, steals, and conducts other criminal activities will not bring you out of the depths of poverty. The only ones it helps are those at the top, and most of them are dead or in prison. Stop blaming others for your lack of initiative. Go back to school and learn to read and write. Get an education, then go out and get a job. If that’s too hard, then you are responsible for your own defeat. Ask King Hoover what he can do for you if you won’t involve yourself in criminal activity. I know his answer. “NOTHING”.

  15. Tony is correct in the aspect of literacy. However you are incorrect in saying the teachings of our King Hoover have not aid & assisted thousands of young brothers of the strong struggle like myself. Since i have been blessed into the nation and given a book of knowledge i have improved my social, educational, and intellectual abilities.
    I am a senior in high school and have maintained a grade point average of 3.6 or higher since i was a freshman. I can honestly say that the only reason i made it out of seventh grade was the teachings of our King Hoover. If you were a part of the Blueprint for Growth and Development, then you would witness everyday, one of your brother of the strong struggle being accepted to a college or university, the aid and assist of financially challenged members.
    Not once have i ever seen a member true to our struggle sell drugs, commit an act of violence, or disrespect anyone under the five. Because its all illegal in the eyes of our King Hoover and his Executive Staff. Laws are to be inforced, and codes are to be followed. I’m 17, no kids, no record, no drugs have ever been in my system, i have never tasted liqour, and i live in one of the worst hoods on Indianapolis, Indiana

    “Love Life Loyalty got it all started, without pure Knowledge Wisdom and Understanding it will soon be departed”

    “360 mind, 720 temper”

  16. just to add, i am currently taking college courses, and im on track for academic honors, all because of one the laws i have sworn to live by.

  17. Chris,

    You are by far the most eloquent of all followers of Mr. Hoover that has contributed to this discussion.

    You make your point well.

    Thank you for your contribution.

  18. In the beginnig was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD.
    He was in the beginning with GOD.
    All the were made through HIM, and without HIM nothing was made that was made.
    In HIM was life and the life was the light of men.
    and the light shines in the darkness, and the did not comprehend it.
    (Book of St.John in the HOLY BIBLE chp.1 V.1-5)
    Love Folks,
    With Love, Respect & Concern do I attempt to express myself to all that may be.
    GOD is LOVE and Love is Good and Good is GOD.
    Every principal We stand for has just about
    come from the scriptures of the Blble.
    I learned this after becoming N/A in the nation.
    I believe Tha OlE’MAN, began to see the Purpose of the Power of his Position but was incarcerated before establishing change.
    Once P.O.W.ed, he began to shift our level of understanding in our goals & objective. (GROWTH & DEVELOPEMENT)
    I was born homeless and raise in the streets by a 15 year old girl who only knew what her father tought her. My Grandfather was 33rd. Degree Mason, a collage dean as well as a Minister. Knowledge Wisdom & Understanding was passed to my O.G.(mom) before he died, She was 12yrs. old. She raisd me alone. I had no father. My Mom was afraid to be loose with guys so I had no male in my life. O.G. taught me about G.O.D. and I thought it was a nice story but didn’t take it to be true. I was blessed into the Nation following a desire to add to myself Strength, Independance,Purpose,Belonging & Selfworth. I had passion to become a Huey P. Newton or Malik El’ Shabazz (You can find the SIX POINT in origin of the Shabazz Tribe, A Hebrew Nation)I wanted to Help Our Folk Succeed.
    My ambition led me to the B.O.S.S. Nation. I was Groomed into the misconception of Money, Power,Respect by power hungry individuals who were not use to the heart of a Tru Disciple, meaning I wanted to learn the truth.Growth & Developement in it’s purest state is the principal teaching of Mind Ova Matter. Dedication, Discipline & Determenation is what fuels the principle. The result survival of the Mind Body & Soul………

    (I’m at work I’ll holla back soon)
    2-15-19- 16-13-12 7-4-13

  19. Before my acceptance in the Nation, I was a Ten-7 Hoova Gangsta Crip from 41blk.L.B.G. in North St. LouisMo. As a youth striviing for growth I became very active iv criminal activity. i was down like 4 flate tires. durring a series of fights and small battles i learn that our ways of function had no support for violent acts of dedication and recieved assistance from a G.D. who noticed my Struggle. From that moment of assistance, i view Loyalty as it’s a must and that G.D.’s owned it.
    Most of my Family are F.O.L.K. And I probroly should have already been G. But the lack of family Unity played part. I wanted to be sure I was an authentic G. so badly til I was Blessed in and walked the line plus stood on my Sixes. Niether deck taught me proper Knowledge, but I believe G.O.D. was with me then and the 606-360-& 720 was rewarde to me. The greater my Tourch flamed, the more i began to see that things were’nt all well.
    (I learn primitively about Life through the Nation. I learned values and substance through our Nation’s lit. and history. I’ve even been arrested for non-violent protest upholding the Nation’s Glory. The G.D.’s we’re my first Family. The Ole’ Man stated something that stuck with me for Life in the 720. “I read If a man cannot benefit from form of fashion in which a body opperates, then he need not be apart of it’s movement. ”
    From that point on I began to Practice the( jive P’s) in order to insure proper performance. In the year of 92, I was arested and approached by a member of the naton of Islam for recruitment. I defended my K.W.&U. the best of my ability and stood , ( at work I’ll holla back.

  20. While reading “Code of the Street”, by Elijah Anderson, I remembered this post and the book when the author observed that the life of youth who work in the drug business is really nothing more than living and working in a pyramid scheme. The dope game for most of its participants is also a darn near 24/7 position, considering the need to be wary of others creeping on the “stash” and of fiends who want late night highs (something I never thought was true but have witnessed firsthand this summer in Greensboro neighborhoods).

  21. Interesting book! [1]

    I like the focus on respect, or honor-violence. Much of the inner cities seem to operate as if they are post-war zones. [2]

    While I like the physical environment of our old Lincoln neighborhood better [3], since moving to Omaha our neighbors have gone from being fellow grad students (good!) and fellow “locals” (very bad!) to working class (pleasant — less chances of a pick-up mah jongg game, less chances of meth house exploding).

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/Code-Street-Decency-Violence-Moral/dp/0393320782
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/10/17/review-of-the-searchers.html
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/03/30/walking-to-work-in-lincoln-nebraska.html

  22. I appreciate that “Searchers” review and how you compare it to a post-war zone. Perhaps a post-civil war zone, given the battering social, political, economic and cultural institutions seem to have taken in the inner city in the past and even to this day.

  23. GD is not about drugs, its because of false claimers that our name is mixed with acts of senseless knowledge. BGD tolerates no act that is not conductive to the growth of ones self and the nation. The basic principle is growth in ones self will then contribute to growth in the nation, and if one hinders that growth he considered a threat, and an enemy then removed from the nation. Our nation being put in a category with gangs comes as a result of ignorance remembering only negative instead of embracing the positive future.

    “720 mind”(360 temper)
    “All cant be well, but ALL IS ONE”

  24. I’m tired of mufucka’s 6ringin race up n tha organization yea i’m white 23 n rep 7 4 14 3rd world ghosttown gangsta all day n if u n a family den it don’t matter wha race u is unless u a racist den dat’s poor parentin or u jus scarred,wha eva’s cleva. 6 FLY 5 DIE

  25. And thats why King Hoover has requested we change the B to Blueprint, or Better, because all of our brothers are not black, we have been anintergrated organization for quite some time now. Tru has made a alid point.

  26. WE ARE A ORGANIZATION OF LOVE LIFE LOYALTY AND WISDOM WE DONT KILL THE ONLY THING WE KILL IS SLOBZ WHEN THEY RUN UP WE HELP THE COMMUNITY NOT BRING IT DOWN YALL ARE LYIN ON THESE WEBSITES TALKIN ABOUT WE ARE BAD PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT ARE COMMUNITY WE AINT CRIPS JUST BECASUE WE GOT THE SAME STAR WE DIFFRENT SO STOP LYIN ON US 7-4 ALL DAY ONE LOVE

  27. Take this coming from someone who got plugged in 1978. All of you who are
    mixing the old with the new are responsible for whats wrong now! The old is
    just that. So be men and women enough to let the past be the past.

    Where I come from here in Chicago to us from the 3rd world, before the split
    and the cocaine, we were all as one. That means, BG’s, BD’s & BGD’s came
    under one law. When the time came to progress certain ones did not want to.
    This is when BOS was created under the growth & development program.

    The BG’s broke away and started New Breed, and the BD’s also and rearranged the old laws to exclude any ties to the old, and the BGD’s either retired or stepped back staying with their one love concept. I for
    my part was an advocate against implementing the New Concept because
    once I reviewed it I knew that it was premature for it to be taught.

    To complete my comment I will say this, as being formally of the old to the
    new leadership that everyone who has gotten on here to say all of what
    theyv’e said I ask please to stop mixing the old and the new together. GD
    does not mean gangster disciple. This term is a new generic aldi vs jewels
    payless vs jordan usage by the mislead and the self appointed, false flaggers that are misrepresenting the original nation, emblem and flag. These new self appointed members are behaving like BGD’s under BOS
    which is two different things. Whoever disagrees doesn’t know their history. So they won’t know their future. I was there. 1978! I am 47. My name is SENSEI FROM Cabrini Green & the 100’s. Original under Don Twin, General Falcon, Minister Funtaine & Minister Stan Freeman. Don Jubaby, Don Hissan. Plenty Much.

  28. Peace Tripple Ol G. Sensei

    I ask that you reachout to a curious mind and aid with the understanding of why complexities of this nation have crumbled around and behind the destruction of societies intentions for the downfall. Time taken out to politic and explore the depths of rationale would be very much appreciated. Jguddauh@yahoo.com is my contact.

    PML 4.12

  29. Im 15 yrs. old and im 1 of the brothers. In these few years of my existince on this earth,I wasnt taught much by one of the Regionst. However,he always made sure I knew the main things like our laws, the creed, what our abbreviation stands for, and why we are here. We not here to kill,still,and disrespect.At the end of the day im man b4 im anything and one thing I can say is this:not alot of these niggaz out here respect our game. If u supposed 2 baleeve in the teaching and the laws that our chair man said 2 follow…..y not be true 2 him and follow them.
    4 Finger/Westside/Larry-I look up 2 (hes a true g)
    Lil Shaun-taught me everything I know about our organization—From the Wild Wild 100s

  30. Ima GD and i say that proudly. I am a female. But what we need to remember is what we stand for. We are fighting for growth, we protect our communites and familys. We are not trying to bring down our people, but move them forward. 16.13.12
    ONE LOVE

  31. My father was a Disciple under KDB, and the originol boss of bosses was my god father. Ours is the reborn Poro and Theam secret socities (west african). We are out laws becauze we reject this society and its convictions

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