Raleigh, North Carolina – In April of 2007, 84-year old Ike Atkinson was released from federal prison after serving a 32-year prison term. There were no cameras and little fanfare as the man deemed the biggest American drug kingpin ever to operate out of Asia was set free. Atkinson, who operated the largest drug smuggling enterprise in the 1970s, never carried a gun, never committed murder and never bowed down to the infamous Italian La Cosa Nostra. As a U.S. Army Master Sergeant, he utilized his intellect and charm to, by conservative estimates, smuggle over 1000 pounds of heroin annually from Bangkok, Thailand, through U.S. military bases into the United States. Atkinson’s legendary enterprise was so complex and profitable, it easily rivaled that of modern day hoodlums, the Black Mafia Family.
And no dead cadavers were involved in the process.
A few years after his release from prison however, Hollywood released a blockbuster film entitled “American Gangster.” The film not only distorted Atkinson’s historical role in the international drug trade, but falsely depicted a snitch by the name of Frank Lucas as the pioneer of the Asian heroin connection.
Will the real American Gangster please stand up!
With the release of an explosive literary documentary, “Sergeant Smack:
The Legendary Lives and Times of Ike Atkinson, Kingpin, and His Band of Brothers” award-winning author and investigative journalist Ron Chepesiuk, unravels and unveils the inner mechanics of the “true” story of the international chess game between the Ike Atkinson’s organization and the DEA agents who took it down. In addition, he lays bare the history behind one of the biggest urban myths ever, that of the cadaver-heroin smuggling connection conspiracy, pimped by Lucas to achieve Hollywood fame, wealth and notoriety!
Author Ron Chepesuik
Chepesiuk is no newcomer to uncovering crime. Having penned some 25 books including titles, “Gangsters of Miami,” “Drug Lords, the Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel,” “Gangsters of Harlem” and “Gangsters of Chicago” and over 4000 articles and features, who better to lay it on the line about what really went down during one of the most tumultuous time periods in the urban community.
“Frank Lucas is the gang bangers version of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio,” Chepesiuk states. “The more Lucas has lied about his story, the taller his tale has become.”
There is no loyalty among thieves and Chepesiuk exposes Lucas as the culprit the late Mayme Johnson, widow of the legendary Harlem Godfather Bumpy Johnson, originally called him out to be, in her book, “Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.”
Born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Leslie “Ike” Atkinson was a charismatic former U.S. Army Master Sergeant, career drug smuggler, scam artist, card shark and doting family man whom law enforcement nick-named Sergeant Smack. An engaging non-fiction read, “Sergeant Smack” chronicles the story of one of U.S. history’s most original American gangsters.
Under the cover of the Vietnam War and through the use of the U.S. military infrastructure, Atkinson masterminded an enterprising group of family members and former African American GIs that the DEA identified as one of history’s ten top drug trafficking rings. Ike’s organization moved heroin from Thailand to North Carolina and beyond during its period of operation from 1968 to 1975. It is believed the gang trafficked about $400 million worth of illegal drug sales during that period.
Unlike most drug tales, “Sergeant Smack” does not glorify violence and murder. It’s not a grimy street tale of drug hustling but an insider’s view into an enterprise that flourished right under Uncle Sam’s nose on military bases from coast to coast.
“Drug kingpin Ike Atkinson is the real deal, and not the stuff of Hollywood legend,” said Steve Morris, the publisher of the New Criminologist, who has reviewed the book. “The author delivers an eminently readable book about a genuine Mr. Big who knows that no fictional makeover is required for his compelling story – the truth is more than enough.”
To date, Atkinson is best described as a man who exuded southern hospitality, with family sensibilities. A true mastermind, his operational base extended across borders and was run like a smooth running business. A dedicated military man, even today many of the now retired law enforcement officials, who originally operated to put him behind bars, still remember and refer to him as a “gentleman.”
Notorious for the span, scope and inner workings of his operation none-the-less, Sergeant Smack’s criminal activities sparked the creation of a special DEA unit code named CENTAC 9, which conducted an intensive three-year investigation across three continents. Atkinson proved so elusive; it took the unlikely discovery of his palm print on a kilo of heroin to finally take him down.
With the release of non-fiction read, “Sergeant Smack,” both Atkinson and Chepesiuk hope to finally set the record straight about the Asian heroin connection in the ’70’s. Atkinson, who feels slighted by Lucas’ distortion about that turbulent period during the prime of their lives is publicly challenging Lucas to a sit-down discussion to reminisce and compare notes.
The recent movie, “American Gangster,” which depicted the criminal career of Frank Lucas, greatly distorted Atkinson’s historical role in the international drug trade. “Sergeant Smack” exposes the lies about the Ike Atkinson-Frank Lucas relationship and documents how Ike, not Lucas, pioneered the Asian heroin connection, with intelligence and not violence.
“I, along with Lucas, played a crucial role in a significant part of American, be it, gangster history,” Ike explained. “What’s done is done. But for Lucas to twist and distort the truth in an effort to manipulate history for his own personal gain is just as despicable as the drug dealing we were both engaged in. We are both just old men now. But I am anxious to sit down with him and a third party reporter and chat about old times. I seriously doubt if he will want to do it. I’m here though and my book, thanks to Ron Chepesiuk, is a vivid documentation of the truth, not the big screen fairytale he has sold to Hollywood and the world at large.”
“Sergeant Smack: The Legendary Lives and Times of Ike Atkinson, Kingpin, and His Band of Brothers” is available as an e-book now at http://www.ikeatkinsonkingpin.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, with the hard copy version to follow in late June.
Will the real American Gangster please stand up? Read “Sergeant Smack” and determine the answer for yourself who that really is.
See and hear from Ike Atkinson himself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Xuic5LtoUI and read about him at http://www.IkeAtkinsonKingpin. com. For more information about Ron Chepesiuk, go to http://www.ronchepesiuk.com/ . You can also ‘friend’ both Ron Chepesiuk and Ike Atkinson on Facebook.com.