The Black Hand Of Death: Harlem’s “Preacher Crew”
The Black Hand of Death also known as the “Preacher Crew,” was headed by Clarence “Preacher Heatley,” pictured above in black suit.
If you say the word extortion in Harlem, the next words would probably be “The Preacher Crew” aka “The Family” and “The Black Hand Of Death!”
They were called the most ruthless men in Harlem, extorting drug dealers all over the country, if they didn’t pay, they would be killed by torture.
They’ve been accused of numerous murders dating back to the 70’s.
When individuals were ordered to be murdered, acid was poured on their bodies to remove tattoos that could possibly identify them. Their bodies were then dismembered and left in a crumbling abandoned building. Crew members were then ordered to scrub down the killing room with boric acid after each murder.
After three decades of allegedly terrorizing, extorting, murdering and torturing Harlem’s major drug dealers, “The Preacher Crew,” was captured by the F.B.I.’s C11 squad. This secretive elite squad was formed to apprehend the “Preacher Crew.”
The leader, Clarence “Preacher” Heatley allegedly cooperated with the F.B.I., snitching on his own crew!
The Preacher crew’s chief lieutenant: Mr. John Cuff aka “Captain Jack Frost,” pictured above in the background (is rumored to be the only man Preacher feared). Frost was sentenced to life plus 145 years after preacher’s testimony.
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According to writer Ron Chepesiuk, Preacher Heatley (above, fourth photo) operated a crime syndicate for nearly 20 years (70’s-90’s) in New York.
Preacher was operating his kidnapping business in Harlem with ruthless efficiency. Drug dealers were reportedly paying Preacher $20,000 to $30,000 to be left alone. Authorities believe that the crew’s kidnapping business was hauling in $1 million annually.
The “Preacher Crew,” also served as an assassination squad for other Harlem gangsters. The crew picked up murder contracts in the drug trade for a standard fee of $5,000 per hit.
But once the crew fulfilled the contracts, it would turn on those who took out the contract. The contractors were weak, Preacher figured, because they had to rely on outsiders to do their dirty work.
Preacher recruited John Cuff (a former cop) to serve as his “Merchant Of Death.” Cuff was known as “Big Cuz,” on the streets and he became Preacher’s right hand man. Cuff also acted as Preacher’s bodyguard and driver.
Cuff allegedly loved his job. “He liked to kill people by strangling them.”
Preacher ordered Cuff to lure Anthony (Malik) Boatwright, one of his top henchmen, to the basement of his apartment building. Preacher thought that Boatwright was becoming too big within his organization, a potential rival.
Boatwright was known as a janitor who cleaned up murder scenes after Preacher had someone tortured and killed.
Boatman came to Preacher’s apartment in 1994, when suddenly, two of Preacher’s men jumped him and proceeded to use a circular saw on him, dismembering him.
Preacher and his crew were natural born killers.
Preacher also kept his crew under strict control and some reports have compared his gang to a cult. He forbade his members from using drugs, fighting with each other, or stealing money from the crew.
Preacher’s story is now available on DVD.