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Frank Lucas Signs Copies Of "Original Gangster" - June 9, 2010

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Frank Lucas, the Harlem drug kingpin immortalized in the 2007 film American Gangster, has died. Lucas, who was residing in New Jersey, died of natural causes on Thursday (May 30).

New York Daily News reports:

The 88-year-old Lucas passed away Thursday, according to a relative’s Instagram post. Lucas, who eventually flipped and became a government witness, was memorably portrayed in the film by Denzel Washington.

The North Carolina native became a flamboyant Harlem figure after coming north — spending his drug fortune on fur coats, expensive homes and luxury cars. He famously donned a $100,000 a chinchilla coat with a matching $25,000 hat to attend the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden in 1971.

His drug ring was dubbed the “Country Boys,” a nod to his Southern roots, and staffed with employees culled from his relatives and childhood friends. Their product was known as “Blue Magic,” and Lucas viewed heroin as the key to the kind of high-rolling life that he had long envisioned.

Lucas infamously imported heroin from southeast Asia in the bottom of the caskets carrying U.S. soldiers. In 1975, Lucas was sentenced to 70 years behind bars but was released early after cooperating with the government in 1981. He returned to jail in 1984 after getting arrested and served an additional seven years.

Photo: Getty