Frank Lucas Dies: Inspiration For Denzel Washington Character In ‘American Gangster’ Was 88

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The inspiration for Denzel Washington’s drug-dealing mogul in the 2007 film American Gangster has died. Frank Lucas was 88 and died while being transported to a New Jersey hospital.

Lucas and his wife, Julianna Farrait-Rodriguez, were once referred to as the black Bonnie & Clyde for their close alliance. She was portrayed as “Eva” by Lymari Nadal in American Gangster and was also a drug dealer, being jailed for five years in 2010 for trying to sell cocaine to a government informant in Puerto Rico. At the time she was 65 and Lucas was 81.

American gangdter
photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

During the 1960s and 1970s, Lucas was the chief purveyor in New York City of a type of heroin called Blue Magic, a concoction which was 10 percent pure compared to the standard 5 percent of the day. His clientele allegedly included celebrities, top business people and politicians.

Lucas typically began his dealing around 4 PM, a time when the police had a two-hour shift switch. He claimed he’d have a million dollars by 10 PM. He also once bragged that he shipped heroin in fake coffins along with actual servicemen shipped from Vietnam, knowing the coffins would not get the usual scrutiny. He later expanded from New York into Chicago, Miami, Detroit and Puerto Rico.

In 1975, a DEA raid on his New Jersey home found more than $584,000 cash. Lucas then turned on his heroin connections, informing on them and having his family enter witness protection. He spent five years in prison on a reduced sentence before release, but couldn’t stay away from the game. He was again convicted for drug chargers, and spent seven more years in prison, finally released in 1991.

In 2010, Lucas released a book on his life titled Original Gangster.

Lucas is survived by his seven children.

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