NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Josh.
The film opens with Bumpy Johnson and Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) pouring gas on a man and then lighting him on fire. As the man screams in pain, Frank shoots him. Bumpy runs Harlem in 1968 and says to Frank that big business in taking over and there is no more room for the little guy. He has a heart attack and dies. We see other mobsters showing up to this funeral.
Meanwhile Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is a detective who is taking classes to become a lawyer and hates public speaking. He and his partner find a million dollars in cash and they argue about turning it in, but Richie turns it in anyways.
Frank is unhappy with the way the mob is being run and it seems he always has to pay this other mobster named Tango off. It is also hard to find good drugs. Frank sees on T.V. that drugs are very cheap in Vietnam and so he buys and passport and goes to visit his cousin who owns a night club in Vietnam.
It switches back to Richie who has a marriage that is failing because his wife says he is never with his kid. After they divorce, his wife says she and her son are moving to Vegas.
Frank makes a deal with his cousin to get heroin back to the U.S. by smuggling it in coffins of dead soldiers returning from Vietnam. Since there is no middle man, Frank can sell heroin cheaper than anyone else in New York; it is also pure heroin nicknamed blue magic.
It switches back to Richie who gets a phone call in the middle of the night from his partner who is flipping out because he killed a guy. They bandage the dead guys neck to make it look like he isn’t dead. Richie tells this partner that he needs help because his partner is on drugs and that is why he killed the guy in the first place. His partner gets mad and jumps out of the ambulance.
Frank at this point is doing very well. He owns several nightclubs and moves his brothers and mom to New York and buys his mom a very nice house.
We see Richie trying to fight for custody but it turns out that his chances aren’t that good because even though he is honest cop he hangs out with bad people and likes to sleep with hookers. He even has sex with his lawyer.
Frank gets his brothers to help him sell his drugs and gives them good money for doing their job. He yells at one of them for dressing too nice because he feels that if you dress too nice you draw attention to yourself It is also at this point that he meets Eva, a Puerto Rican Beauty, and falls head over heels for her.
Richie’s partner overdoes on drugs which promotes Richie to start a Narcotics Unit and go after the big guys, not any small time dealers. They aren’t to successful at first so Richie decides to starts on the streets. He discovers Blue Magic and tries to figure who could sell such powerful stuff for so cheap. He goes to New York to track it down and runs into detective Trupo (Josh Brolin). Trupo doesn’t like him much and tells Richie not to come back to New York again because this isn’t his jurisdiction.
One night Frank and his girlfriend go to a Muhammad Ali match and he sits right up front and has better seats then some of the world’s biggest entertainers. He also shakes hands with Joe Lewis. Richie sees this and gets the license plate number from the limo Frank was riding in.
Richie discovers that the man he saw was Frank Lucas and wants to bring him down. The only problem is Richie has no evidence that Frank is drug dealer.
Frank gets married to Eva and runs into detective Truipo Trupo who wants ten thousand dollars a month to keep this mouth shut. Frank also deals with local competition mobster Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who is selling heroin under the name of Blue Magic, but it isn’t blue magic. Frank and his wife almost get shot by an unknown. We never find out who it is, but we are lead to think that it was Nicky.
One night Richie sees one of Frank’s men almost kill his girlfriend. Instead of putting the guy in prison they have him wear a wire. This is where Richie learns how Frank gets heroin back into the U.S.
Things don’t look too good for Frank now since the war is over he can’t get his drugs back into the U.S. Richie searches a U.S. plane but finds no drugs. He also teams up with Trupo who is mad at Frank for blowing up his car. Trupo searches Frank's house. Richie gets into an argument with military official because Richie is making it look like the U.S. military is smuggling drugs. Richie’s men find drugs in coffins located at a warehouse and invade. There is a huge shoot out and they arrest Frank while he is at church.
Richie and Frank finally meet and Franks says he doesn’t give a fuck what happens to him.
Frank turns in other drug dealers and crooked cops and gets his sentence reduced because he is being so helpful to police. Richie also gives up custody of his kid and lets his wife take him to Vegas. Frank is released from prison in 1991.
Richie Roberts (Russel Crowe) gets one of Frank Lucas's (Denzel Washington) cousins to wear a wire after he witnesses him almost kill his girlfriend. Roberts is able to figure out when Lucas's next shipment is coming into the US. They find that Lucas is smuggling the heroin into the country by hiding it in the false bottoms of dead soldiers's coffins.
Frank Lucas is arrested but makes a deal with Roberts in order to shave time off of his sentence. He gives Roberts enough information to put away two-thirds of the crooked cops that were in the special drug task force.
At the very end of the movie it is 1991, and Lucas is released from prison. His wife goes back to Puerto Rico.