Born November 1925 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Ike Atkinson was a master sergeant in the U.S. Army before turning to drug trafficking during the Vietnam War. He worked with kingpin Frank Lucas during the late 1960s into the 1970s.
Sergeant Smack and the Golden Triangle
Most of what is known about Ike Atkinson’s life is about his heroin operation. He moved to Bangkok, Thailand and bought into Jack’s American Star Bar. At the time, American servicemen frequent the bar. It would become his base for smuggling.
Thailand is one of the three points of the Golden Triangle, a major drug distribution and trade area in Asia. This particular point was where a lot of trade to tourists occurred given Thailand’s reputation as a hotspot. As 1968 rolled around, Atkinson saw a means to make more money by entering the trade and teamed up one Luchai Rubiwat, a co-owner of Jack’s American Star Bar.
The two would purchase heroin, divide it, and send it to America. This is where Atkinson and Frank Lucas’ stories of the operation differ. Atkinson himself stated that he worked in tandem with a North Carolina carpenter to hollow out furniture to smuggle the drugs in. From there, U.S servicemen who worked for Atkinson would gather the drugs and sell it.
Drug kingpin Frank Lucas had a very different interpretation of how Sergeant Smack’s operation worked.