By the 1960s, he’d built a global drug empire that crossed from Nyc to South East Asia. Lucas had millions in cash and property in a number of cities when he was busted in 1975.
As with many larger than life characters, the biography of Frank Lucas is shrouded in fact, mystery and myth, much of which continues to be perpetuated by Lucas himself.
Many Americans in the rural South were poor only at that time, but most African Americans endured the heaviest poverty. Lucas spent much of his early youth looking after his younger sibs and getting into trouble. He’s maintained that the one incident that started his life of crime was watching the murder of his cousin. The guys killed Lucas’s 13-year old cousin on the spot, maintaining he’d looked at a white woman in a flirtatious way.
As the oldest boy in your family, Lucas needed to find means for your family to live. Together with the Depression raging on, it was tricky to get and hold employment, so he resorted to stealing food. Afterwards, as he got older and more powerful, he found some success mugging intoxicated customers outside the neighborhood pub. In his later teen years, he got a job employed as a truck driver to get a conduit firm until he was captured in the act of sleeping with all the boss’ daughter. In the ensuing fight, Lucas strike the dad on the head using a pipe, knocking him out cold. Then he stole $400 from the business till and establish the establishment on fire. Fearing he’d be detained and jailed for much of his life, his mother pleaded with him to flee to The Big Apple.
Folks told him to be clever and get an adequate job as an elevator operator or door man in a resort. But Lucas saw how actual cash was made on the streets, through illegal gambling and substances. With each ensuing offense, he became more daring and callous. He first robbed an area pub at gunpoint. Feeling assured, he brazenly broke into a high-stakes crap game at local nightclub and robbed all the players. Subsequently, in the summer of 1966, on a busy pavement, Lucas shot an area thug who reneged on a dope deal. His attempts got the attention of Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, a longtime Harlem gangster who commanded gambling and extortion operations.
There’s some disagreement over how close Lucas was to Johnson. Lucas maintains Johnson took him under his wing, and finally became Bumpy’s “right hand man.” What’s accurate is that Frank Lucas learned well from Johnson, but took his teachings to an entirely new level, developing among the very successful crime organizations of the 20th century. Lucas took the possibility to capture as much land as he could.
Frank Lucas needed to be loaded—what he called “Donald Trump loaded.” He not only believed he could allow it to be huge in the drug world, he understood how to get it done. He began using the preparation. He called it “backtracking.” He’d hole himself up in a hotel room, away from any distractions, to get a month or two at a time. He’d look back on all his previous experiences and what he had learned. He then had anticipate the near future including every possible detail as well as the detail of the facts, making sure he emotionally walked through each step of the operation.
His thought was to avoid the Mafia’s heroin trade in Harlem, and go straight to the supply of the drug. By 1968, the Vietnam War was raging for a number of years. It was common knowledge that U.S service staff were exposed to a lot of different illegal substances, including heroin. When they came back to the States using their habits, they sought out new sources. From the late 1960s and early 1970s, dope was wild in most big American cities, with “brand names” like “Mean Machine,” “Can Not Get Enough of that Amazing Things,” and “Harlem Hijack.” Lucas understood he could fulfill this demand and also make a substantial gain if he could get the drugs straight in the source. He chose to travel to southeast Asia.
Frank Lucas had what’s known as an “expectancy of invincibility.” He actually believed nothing of getting on a plane by himself and traveling half way all over the world to Thailand. He understood little concerning the united states, and did not talk the language. Yet, he was participating in among the very lethal professions possible—international drug trafficking. On his arrival in Bangkok in 1968, Lucas checked to the Dusit Thani Hotel. Atkinson ran the pub and was well associated with many U.S. Army soldiers in southeast Asia, regularly providing them with substances on demand. So, Lucas began the policy of only hiring relatives or close friends.
Atkinson consented to provide Lucas using the heroin, but Lucas wished to start to see the operations for himself. Both men traveled for almost two weeks through the jungles of Thailand until they found Atkinson’s primary link and company associate, a Chinese-Thai gentleman named Luetchi Rubiwat. Next to the poppy fields were caverns drilled in the mountains, where the poppies were subsequently processed into heroin. On Lucas’s first excursion, he purchased 132 kilos of good quality heroin for $4,200 per unit. In Harlem he could have paid $50,000 for a kilo from the Mafia.
Lucas and Atkinson created an “military within the Army” of draftees and enlisted men so that you can set up the international supply system. Essential military personnel needed to be “purchased” to the system, including high ranking officers, both American and South Vietnamese. Lucas used a mix of charm and pricy bribes to recruit his team. As he did with almost all parts of his venture, Lucas would manage the operations personally in southeast Asia, occasionally disguising himself as an Army officer.
From that point, the packages will be sent to accomplices who unpacked the diamorphine and prepared it for sale. Hyperbole indicates that a lot of the dope was stuffed to the coffins of dead service men, as well as stuffed to the cadavers. But it’s been reported that Atkinson just packaged the smuggled heroin in furniture.
In setting up his organization in the Us, Frank Lucas joined stamina with intelligence, being quite cautious to ensure every detail was covered. He contracted just trusted relatives and close friends from North Carolina; folks like Leslie Atkinson. He considered they were less prone to steal from him and be tempted by the vices of the town. He recruited his five younger brothers, and moved them to The Big Apple. In town, they became known as the “Country Boys,” and they commanded the land on 116th Street between 7th and 8th ave in Harlem.
Lucas approached advertising his merchandise like every entrepreneur by offering worth for the best cost. Because he was getting almost pure diamorphine straight in the origin, he managed to “cut” the drug at an increased degree—typically between 10 and 12 percent—when most street heroin was just about 5 to 6 percent. Lucas hired several young women to combine the imported diamorphine with mannite and quinine. To avoid theft, these girls wore nothing but plastic gloves. To safeguard his investment, Lucas inflicted savage violence against anyone who stood in his way, inflicting anxiety in opponents and inspiring admiration from buddies as well as company associates.
Just as Lucas had intended, the cash came pouring in. He often bragged he was making a million dollars a day. There often was not enough space to conceal the cash, so he’d launder the money, personally driving big totes of bills to a bank in the Bronx where the bankers would count it and trade it for valid bills. In the peak of his profession, he’d over $52 million in various Cayman Island banks and 1,000 kilograms of heroin on hand value $300,000 a kilo. To “conceal” the exchanged cash, Lucas bought into legitimate companies—such as a chain of dry cleaners and gas stations—in the hopes of preventing detection.
Lucas also made the rounds in The Big Apple ‘s celebrity circuit. Lucas was slated to be in a Hollywood gangster movie entitled The Ripoff, place in the streets of Nyc. He given almost a $100,000 into the picture, and given the creation several of his exotic cars. But, the film was never completed. He spent money freely, once purchasing a few of $140,000 Van Cleef bracelets for both he and his wife, Julie. She bought him a $50,000 chinchilla jacket and $10,000 hat to fit. Nevertheless, most times Lucas favored to dress quite casually, so as to not bring attention to himself.
It’d citywide jurisdiction and virtually limitless power. The unit had acquired a cowboy-like attitude, breaking in and running warrantless searches of suspected drug dealers; creating illegal telephone taps; using bribery; and commanding hooked informants with confiscated heroin. Several of the policemen were “about the take” with local drug dealers to look the other way. Based on Lucas, he was taken to the police station, where he needed to negotiate his release with the offer of $30,000 and two “keys” of diamorphine. This is a standard practice, and made many New York police officers participants in the crimes they were assumed to be quitting.
In time, the police corruption made national news, as well as the Justice Department needed it ceased. He was quite street smart, and was known as a policeman who did what he had to do to get the work done.
In the panic, Lucas’ wife, Julie, threw several bags stuffed with cash out the window. All total, $584,000 was regained—what Lucas referred to as “road cash.” Also found were keys to several Cayman Island safe-deposit boxes, property titles, as well as a ticket to some United Nations ball, compliments of the ambassador of Honduras. In short order, 10 people were detained, but not one of them was Frank Lucas. As yet, there is no direct evidence linking Lucas to the substance business.
Then came a break. He named names, revealed researchers where buys were made, and identified public pay phones used to produce drug deals. Assistant prosecutor Roberts used the evidence to charge 43 individuals, many in Lucas’ immediate family, using the offense of drug trafficking. True, Roberts had a weak case against Lucas, but using the corroboration of the codefendants, he could place enough evidence collectively to visit trial.
In the trial, several people testified regarding the disastrous effects of heroin, especially Lucas’ “Blue Magic” brand, that was much more powerful than most diamorphine, and caused many deaths as a result of overdose. Roberts made the case against Lucas, declaring he’d “killed more black people than the KKK using the selling of Blue Magic.” After having several brief months, Lucas turned informant and gave names of Mafia accomplices and tainted members of the New York police department. He even gave up Atkinson, who was his heroin link in Thailand.
As a compensation because of his advice, Lucas’ term was reduced to 15 years, and he was released in 1981. He was detained again in 1984 for attempting to change an ounce of heroin and $13,000 for a kilogram of cocaine. Mainly through Roberts’ attempts, Lucas received a sentence of seven years; light to get a guy who was convicted twice to get the same offense. Lucas had developed a tepid relationship with Roberts through the post trial investigation. Now the relationship reinforced as Roberts truly believed Lucas was remorseful. Along the way, Roberts became the godfather of Lucas’ son.
After his closing penitentiary release, Frank Lucas returned to some ravaged Harlem to see the poverty and squalor, caused in part by his drug company. For perhaps initially, he started to understand how damaging his venture was to people and a whole community. Lucas repented, saying, “I did some horrible things… I am really sorry that I did them. I actually am.” Because of this, he’s spent much of his remaining life working to fix the damage he caused. He joined attempts along with his daughter’s non-profit organization, Yellow Brick Roads, which offers a safe haven for kids of incarcerated parents.