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Drug lord Frank Lucas, who inspired American Gangster film, dies aged 88

Lucas was a major heroin dealer in the US before becoming an informant.

Frank Lucas, the man Denzel Washington portrayed in the film American Gangster (AP Photo/Jim Cooper, File)
Frank Lucas, the man Denzel Washington portrayed in the film American Gangster (AP Photo/Jim Cooper, File)

Former Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas, whose life became the basis for 2007 movie American Gangster, has died at the age of 88.

His nephew Aldwan Lassiter said Lucas died on Thursday in New Jersey, where he had lived for years.

Lucas became a major heroin dealer before being convicted in 1975 and sentenced to decades in prison.

He turned informant and was released after about five years.

His story inspired the Ridley Scott-directed American Gangster, which starred Denzel Washington as Lucas.

The movie brought scrutiny of dubious claims in Lucas’ legend, particularly a portrayal of him smuggling drugs in US soldiers’ caskets during the Vietnam War.

As for Lucas’ unquestioned role in supplying potent heroin, he said in 2007 that he regretted doing “some terrible things”.

PA

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