As far as legendary drug kingpins go, Frank Lucas was among one of them. Famously portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 2007 film American Gangster, Lucas was one of America’s more infamous drug kingpins, famously using the Vietnam War as a cover for his heroin operation.
Lucas died on Thursday night, according to TMZ. He was 88.
The North Carolina born Lucas was being transported to a hospital for an unknown health issue and died on the way. Back in the 1960s and ’70s, Lucas rose to power dealing heroin in Harlem, boasting that his product was pure and came straight from the opioid fields in Vietnam, smuggling drugs back to the United States using the coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers.
Lucas’ product, dubbed “Blue Magic” on the streets made him wealthy. He owned property across the country from Chicago to Miami, Detroit, New York, New Jersey, his native North Carolina, and Puerto Rico. Famously, he sat ringside for the “Fight of the Century” in 1971 between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, allegedly drawing the FBI’s attention.
He was convicted of federal and state drug violations and sentenced to 70 years in prison after he was busted in the mid-1970s. However, he only spent 5 years behind bars on those charges after he ratted out on others in the drug trade, placing him and his family in witness protection.
He is survived by his seven children.