Frank Lucas, The New York drug dealer made famous from the movie American Gangster passed away last night in his sleep. He died of natural causes.
The former Harlem gangster is survived by his 7 children. He was 88 years old.
Frank Is best known for being a former drug trafficker who operated in Harlem during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was particularly known for cutting out middlemen in the drug trade and buying heroin directly from his source.
He was particularly known for cutting out middlemen in the drug trade and buying heroin directly from his source in the Golden Triangle.
Lucas boasted that he smuggled heroin using the coffins of dead American servicemen, but this claim is denied by his Southeast Asian associate, Leslie "Ike" Atkinson.
Rather than hide the drugs in the coffins, they were hidden in the pallets underneath, as depicted in the 2007 feature film American Gangster in which he was played by Denzel Washington. The film fictionalized elements of Lucas' life for dramatic effect.
Lucas was born in LaGrange, N.C. on Sept. 9, 1930, and lacked a formal education. He moved to Harlem after witnessing the Ku Klux Klan murdering his cousin, and said the incident provoked his criminal life. He later became involved with mob boss Bumpy Johnson, who died of a heart attack in 1968.
Lucas' reign ended in 1975, when he was arrested in a raid in his home in Teaneck, N.J. and sentenced to 70 years. However, his cooperation in an inquiry that led to dozens of drug-related arrests resulted in his release in 1981. A few years later he was convicted of new drug charges and imprisoned until 1991.
The Hollywood film, a composite of fact and fiction for dramatic effect, earned two Academy Award nominations.
In recent years, he used a wheelchair to get around and expressed remorse for his crimes, including helping his daughter with an organization for children of parents in prison and using proceeds from his autobiography, "Original Gangster," to promote education.
"Please learn from my mistakes," he told young readers. "Stay in school, finish high school and earn the highest degree in education that you can. This is the way to go in life."