Frank Lucas, who was famously portrayed by Denzel Washington in American Gangster, died on Thursday night at the age of 88. Lucas’ nephew, Aldwan Lassiter, confirmed the death to Rolling Stone earlier today. Lassiter said that the infamous kingpin died of natural causes, although there hasn’t been any other details that have emerged recently.
Lucas was one of the biggest drug dealers in America int he 70s. He’s often credit for the “Golden Triangle” operation in the early ’70s where he smuggled kilos upon kilos of heroin from Southeast Asia to America in the coffins of U.S. soldiers who died in Vietnam. His ploy managed to cut out the Mafia who were the middlemen at the time and bought the heroin directly from Southeast Asia. At the peak of its operation, Lucas claimed that he was bringing in $1M a day.
The film American Gangster ended up inspiring Jay-Z to create an album of the same name. In an interview in 2007, Jay explained Lucas’ impact on the game.
“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 champion ’em like ‘Go! Go!” He said.
The DEA raided Frank’s home in the 1970s where they discovered $584K of cash. He was later sentenced to 70 years but ended up ratting and getting his sentence cut. He entered a witness protection program with his family.
Lucas is survived by his eight children.