With 116th Street as his base, Frank Lucas reeled in big money selling heroin. He would sell directly to users without dealing with suppliers or the Mafia.
Lucas managed to keep the operating cost of his group low by either selling himself or with family and friends out of North Carolina. He called his brand of heroin Blue Magic which raked in millions during the 1970s. With his new fortune, he was able to expand outside of Harlem with property in Miami, Detroit, L.A., New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina. These places also served as hubs for his operation. Lucas also had money on hand, in banks, and in Cayman Islands accounts.
Frank Lucas was eventually busted in January 1975. The DEA’s Group 22 teamed up with the NYPD’s recently formed Organized Crime Control Bureau to empty out his accounts and seize all his property gained through the drug trade. From his New Jersey home, law enforcement seized almost $585,000 in cash.
After a trial, he was given 70 years–40 years federal and 30 years state–for drug trafficking and other charges. Frank Lucas would do five years before being released in 1981 after providing information on other criminals in between 1976 and 1977. This information assisted in over 100 convictions.
Now in his 50s, Lucas tried to enter a drug trade that had changed once again. It was the mid-1980s and cocaine was the big product of choice. He would be captured and arrested again in 1984 for trying to make an exchange of heroin and cash for cocaine. This time he went away until 1991.
Since then, he has stayed away from the life of crime. Lucas has told his life story to numerous outlets and is the subject of a number of films and documentaries. Most notable of these is the 2007 film American Gangster where Denzel Washington portrays the trafficker. The film would result in controversy because of the accuracy of Frank Lucas’ claims as they related to federal law enforcement.
In 2010, his wife Julianna Farrait went to prison for attempting to sell cocaine. She was 70 at the time of her arrest.