A group of former Drug Enforcement Agency members has filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of American Gangster claiming it's defamatory in its depiction of DEA operatives as "villains".
The film describes the case of real-life heroin dealer Frank Lucas who, following his arrest in 1975, turned government informant and provided information which led to the conviction of "more than 100 narcotics violators", as the New York Times puts it.
The film's closing statement asserts that Lucas exposed DEA corruption and "led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency", something which the litigants reject, countering that "none of its agents were convicted as a result of Lucas's evidence".
The suit was filed in New York by Jack Toal, Gregory Korlinoff, and Louis Diaz on behalf of themselves and 400 other former agents, the Guardian explains. Toal, who was personally involved in the Lucas case, said: "Most of the movie is not true. If they had said 'This is based on a false story' it would have been a lot better."
Dominic Amorosa, a prosecutor in the Lucas case who is now representing the agents, told AP: "This is absolutely off the wall. I don't know what these people are thinking but they are going to pay for it."
Universal Pictures spokesman Michael Mose described the suit as "entirely without merit", adding: "American Gangster does not defame these or any other federal agents." ®