'American Gangster' drug kingpin Frank Lucas dead at 88

Lucas, who ran one of the nation’s biggest heroin empires, was played by Denzel Washington in the 2007 movie titled 'American Gangster' and passed away in New Jersey according to his brother


                            'American Gangster' drug kingpin Frank Lucas dead at 88

Frank Lucas, one of America's most infamous drug kingpins, breathed his last Thursday night. Lucas, who ran one of the nation’s biggest heroin empires, was played by Denzel Washington in the 2007 movie titled 'American Gangster' and passed away in New Jersey according to his brother reported TMZ

The website also reported that Lucas was on the way to a hospital for an unknown health issue when he died. Rolling Stone revealed his death was confirmed by his nephew Aldwan Lassiter, who said he passed away due to natural causes. 

Lucas, Harlem's drug kingpin and the "original gangster" who was known to talk about his own criminal legacy, is attributed as the architect behind the "Golden Triangle" gambit of the early 1970s where he claimed to have smuggled heroin from Southeast Asia into the U.S. in coffins of soldiers killed in Vietnam. “Who the hell is gonna look in a dead soldier’s coffin,” Lucas said in a 2000 New York Mag article. “We had him make up 28 copies of the government coffins . . . except we fixed them up with false bottoms, big enough to load up with six, maybe eight kilos.”

A quasi-fictionalized version of the infamous drug kingpin's life story was later made into the movie 'American Gangster' where Denzel Washington portrayed the drug lord. The film also inspired singer Jay Z to release an album of the same name. In 2007, Jay-Z told Rolling Stone, “Frank Lucas, it’s something about when African-Americans reach somewhere, no matter what they’re doing, if they reach somewhere that no one has ever been before, you’re like ‘Go! Go!'”

Lucas always bragged saying, “I bought Harlem, I owned Harlem, I ran Harlem."  But his reign was put to an end by The Drug Enforcement Agency and the New York Police Department in 1975 and Lucas received a 70-year prison sentence. In 1981, Lucas was released from jail early after his sentence was reduced to time served. Three years later, Lucas was back at it again and was busted for a drug deal that violated his parole. He ended up spending seven years behind bars.

“Look, all you got to know is that I am sitting here talking to you right now. Walking and talking – when I could have, should have, been dead and buried a hundred times,” Lucas said in the 2000 article. “And you know why that is? Because: People like me. People like the f**k out of me.” Lucas is survived by his seven children. 

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