‘The Original Gangster’ Frank Lucas Dead At 88 Years Old

The infamous New York City drug trafficker passed away on Thursday.

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| May 31 2019,

10:47 pm

Infamous drug kingpin Frank Lucas died on Thursday at 88 years old. Lucas’ nephew, Aldwan Lassiter, confirmed to Rolling Stone that his uncle died of natural causes.

Immortalized by Denzel Washington in Ridley Scott’s 2007 crime film American Gangster and Jay-Z’s album of the same name, Lucas’ ascension to power began in Harlem during the 1960s. He claimed to have imported heroin directly from Southeast Asia in the coffins of U.S. soldiers killed during the war in Vietnam.

“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!” Jay-Z told Rolling Stone on the subject of Frank Lucas in a 2007 interview.

The “original gangster” was born and raised in North Carolina before he moved to New York City. There, he was able to create a name for himself by getting into the drug trade through the Italian Mafia. During the span of his career as a druglord, Lucas was able to have dealings with Hollywood elites, politicians and prominent figures in the business world.

In 1975, the kingpin’s home in New Jersey was raided by the DEA and Lucas was sentenced to 70 years in prison. He was released in 1981 after his sentence was reduced, by providing evidence that led to dozens of drug-related arrests. He was arrested again three years for a drug deal that violated his parole and spent seven years in prison.

Frank is most notably quoted to have said, “Look, all you got to know is that I am sitting here talking to you right now… And you know why that is? Because: People like me. People like the f**k out of me.”

In 2011, Lucas’ published his memoir, Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America’s Most Notorious Drug Lords.

Lucas is survived by his 7 children.