Frank Lucas The Real American Gangster

Topics: Illegal drug trade, Heroin, Gang Pages: 12 (3532 words) Published: July 25, 2014

Frank Lucas The Real American Gangster

“Frank Lucas was born on September, 1930 in La Grange (Lenoir County), North Carolina, but raised in Greensboro, North Carolina (A&E). Frank Lucas was a country boy who grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. Lucas grew up in rural North Carolina during the depths of the Great Depression. Many Americans in the rural South were poor at this time, but most African-Americans suffered the deepest poverty. Lucas spent much of his early youth looking after his younger siblings and getting into trouble. As the oldest boy in the family, Lucas had to find ways for the family to survive. With the Depression raging on, it was difficult to obtain and hold a job, so he resorted to stealing food. Later, as he got older and stronger, he found some success mugging intoxicated customers outside the local tavern. In his later teen years, he got a job working as a truck driver for a pipe company until he was caught in the act of sleeping with the boss' daughter. In the ensuing fight, Lucas hit the father on the head with a pipe, knocking him out cold. He then stole $400 from the company till and set the establishment on fire. Fearing he would be arrested and jailed for much of his life, his mother pleaded with him to flee to New York. Frank Lucas arrived in Harlem in the summer of 1946. People told him to be smart and get a decent job as an elevator operator or door man at a hotel. But Lucas saw how real money was made on the streets, through illegal gambling and drugs.” (Frank Lucas me.) With each ensuing crime, he became more bold and ruthless. He first robbed a local bar at gunpoint. Then he stole a tray of diamonds from a jewelry store, breaking a guard's jaw with a slug from his brass knuckles. Feeling confident, he brazenly broke into a high-stakes crap game at local club and robbed all the players. Then, in the summer of 1966, on a crowded sidewalk, Lucas shot a local thug who reneged on a dope deal. His efforts caught the eye of Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, a long-time Harlem gangster who controlled gambling and extortion operations. Johnson was born in Charleston, South Carolina and moved to Harlem with his parents as a youth. He was given the nickname "Bumpy" because of a large bump on the back of his head. Johnson was an associate of mob boss Stephanie St. Clair. “He was one of the leading criminals in Harlem to fight a war against Dutch Schultz, who incorporated the city's organized crime into the Jewish and Italian mobs of the day. He was later hired as an enforcer by the Genovese crime family to protect Mafia operations in black neighborhoods against local criminals, and even met Charlie "Lucky" Luciano more than once during his time. Johnson was arrested more than 40 times and would eventually serve three prison terms for narcotics-related charges. He died on July 7, 1968 at Wells Restaurant in Harlem from a heart attack. Johnson death left the control of Harlem up for grabs.” (Taylor, Q. There is some disagreement over how close Lucas was to Johnson. Lucas claims Johnson took him under his wing, and eventually became Bumpy's "right-hand-man." Others close to Johnson, including his widow, Mayme, testify that Johnson distrusted Lucas and never made him more than a flunky. What is true is that Frank Lucas learned well from Johnson, but took his teachings to a whole new level, developing one of the most lucrative crime organizations of the 20th century. Lucas took the opportunity to seize as much territory as he could.” (The Frank Lucas Biography website)

“There is no question that when you hear about the true “American Gangster” someone is talking about Frank Lucas. Frank Lucas was a heroin dealer and organized crime boss. Frank Lucas wanted to be rich—what he called "Donald Trump rich." He not only believed he could make it big in the drug world, he understood how to do it. He started with the planning. He called it "backtracking." He...

References: Dicker, D. (2008). Frank Lucas the Real American Gangster. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from
Frank Lucas me. (2012). Retrieved July 17, 2014 from - statements-and-controversies-from-frank-lucas-truth-or-lie/
Gillmore, J. (2010). Retrieved July 17, 2014, from
Meadows, B. (2007). The Real Men Behind American Gangster. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from,,20170866,00.html
Rowe, Amir. (2012). Locked Up! Frank Lucas’ wife. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from
Taylor, Q. (2007). Retrieved July 11, 2014 from
The Frank Lucas Biography website. (2013). Retrieved July 11, 2014, from
Waters, P. (2008). Gangster of the Week: Frank Lucas. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from
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