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'Most Wanted' Black Mafia founder nabbed.

Jan 23, 2002

By KITTY CAPARELLA, Philadelphia Daily News

Black Mafia founder SamuelRichard Christian, a ruthless convicted killer and drug trafficker once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, was arrested in South Philadelphia yesterday.

Jim Sweeney, acting FBI special agent in charge of drug investigations, said Christian, 62, was arrested at 4 p.m. at 22nd and McKean streets near where authorities say they believe he was living.

Sweeney called the gray-haired man with a white beard, who once struck fear in his enemies with his imposing muscular 230-pound, 5-foot-10 frame, "a shadow of his former self.

"Yesterday, Christian, who tried to buy crack cocaine here in 1990 and slipped away, appeared gaunt and offered no resistance, Sweeney said.Christian was arrested by members of the Violent Traffickers Project, which incl! uded the FBI, Philadelphia police and others.

"Once at the top of his profession," a law enforcement source said yesterday, "he looked like a piker" - a drug abuser who uses crack.

New York authorities requested FBI agents here to arrest him on a Nov. 20, 2000, warrant for a parole violation.

Christian became one of the most sought-after criminals in America, with 29 arrests in Philadelphia, and even more in New Jersey and New York.

He remains a suspect in numerous unsolved murders.

In 1968, Christian and others founded the Black Mafia in Philadelphia, initially called Black Inc., incorporating members of the 20th and Carpenter Streets gang. They became the forefathers of the murderous Junior Black Mafia, also founded here, in 1986.

Both were citywide drug organizations. The more notorious and calculating Black Mafia, with crews assigned to drugs, murders, numbers and extortions, was responsible for 50 deaths from 1968 through the late 1970s, while the volatile, unpredictable JBM death toll was 25 during the late 1980s, authorities said.

Christian played a role in both organizations, authorities said. In 1972, Christian was sought by law enforcement in connection with the slaying of a large-scale narcotics trafficker, Tyrone Palmer. He was killed in a shootout at a celebrated Atlantic City nightclub, Club Harlem, in which four others died and four more were hospitalized.

A year later, authorities also wanted him in the gangland slaying of flamboyant drug dealer Major Coxson, who ran for mayor of Camden; his companion, Louise Luby, and her daughter, Lita.

In 1974, he was arrested in Detroit for the 1971 shootout, robbery and attempted murder of a police officer in a Harlem record store. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years-to-life imprisonment.

In November 1988, New York authorities paroled Christian, only to have him try to take over the much younger JBM. Christian's son, Sulieman Beyah, alternatively fought and cooperated with the JBM. Beyah is serving a life term for murder related to the drug wars in Philadelphia.

During its reign, the Black Mafia controlled 80 percent of the drug trafficking in the Philadelphia area, extorted money from wealthy black businessmen, wiped out rival drug dealers and took over the heroin trade from the Mafia.

"Their reputations were so strong that now that they don't have to rob banks, they are getting the difference in more extortion money from scared people," said an investigator at the time.

Later, the sons and nephews of the Black Mafia members, who founded the JBM, relied on their fathers and uncles for advice. Christian also used the names Richard Carter, Sulieman Bey, and Samuel Beyah. *

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