The Legendary Lives and Times of Ike Atkinson, Kingpin, and His Band of Brothers
Sergeant Smack chronicles the story of Leslie “Ike” Atkinson, one of U.S. history’s most original 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. According to law enforcement sources, 1,000 pounds is a conservative estimate for the heroin amount the ring transported annually from Bangkok, Thailand, to U.S. military bases during its period of operation from 1968 to 1975. That amount translates to about $400 million worth of illegal drug sales during that period.Ike Atkinson is a charismatic former U.S. army master sergeant, career smuggler, card shark and doting family man whom law enforcement code-named Sergeant Smack. He was never known to carry a gun, and, today, many retired law enforcement officials who put him in jail, refer to him as a “gentleman.” 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. Sergeant Smack was elusive, but the discovery of his palm print on a kilo of heroin finally took him down.In 1987, Ike tried to revive his drug ring from Otisville Federal Penitentiary, but the feds discovered the plot and set up a sting. The events that follow seem like the narrative for a Robert Ludlum novel. Atkinson is convicted and nine years are added to his sentence. Ike was released from prison in 2006 after serving 31-year jail sentence. Atkinson’s story is controversial because his ring has been accused of smuggling heroin to the U.S. in the coffins and cadavers of dead American GIs. As this book shows, the accusation is completely false.The recent movie, “American Gangster,” which purportedly depicted the criminal career of Frank Lucas, 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.