New York in the 1970s was considered a city on the brink of collapse. Rot had been allowed to spread throughout the city. Times Square was filled with peep show and XXX theaters. And the streets were lined with heroin addicts. The man responsible for the bringing the majority of the heroin into the city was Frank Lucas, a Carolina farm boy who became one of he most powerful gangsters in the history of the United States.
Lucas was able to avoid capture for years due to the perception that the Italian Mafia controlled the drug trade and that an African American did not have the ability to set up a sophisticated drug importing operation. Lucas was able to turn the doubts in his ability into opportunity. He traveled to the golden triangle in Southeast Asia and was able to cut out the middle men in the drug trade. He arranged for a direct line of pure heroin to be shipped direct to his distribution center. Lucas claims that he hid the drugs in the coffins of American soldiers. While that claim has not been verified that the drugs were shipped via United States Military transports has been confirmed.
The Armed Forces were no the only branch of society that partnered with Lucas to poison the streets of New York. He laundered his money through a Chemical Bank branch in New York. Lucas also used the police. Police bribes were a large portion of his payroll.
After Lucas was arrested he turned over this information to federal investigators. His cooperation led to the arrest of dozens of officials including many officers on the New York Police Department’s Drug Task force. The discovery of the Lucas drug ring caused drug laws to become harsher. The harsher laws have not proven to be a deterrent. And the story of Frank Lucas shows the depth to which drugs and money can poison a society.