When the true story of two gunrunners who made it wealthy when they were a little older than your typical frat kid appeared in 2016, it sounded completely unbelievable. While the film was impressive, the true story of War Dogs is much more incredible.
Efraim Diveroli, then 21 years old, and David Packouz, 25 at the time, secured $200 million in government contracts for their startup company AEY in 2007. They were also not bashful about flaunting their newfound wealth.
Who Is War Dogs Based on?
Numerous aspects of War Dogs are spot on. Rolling Stone magazine was the first to cover the story, and their in-depth account came first. The framework for Phillips’ biography was laid in an article by Guy Lawson, which was expanded into the book Arms and the Dudes. Phillips and his co-writers, Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic, presented a fairly realistic account of the events. The origin stories of Miles Teller’s David Packouz and Jonah Hill’s Efraim Diveroli in War Dogs are based on real events.
Before reconnecting with his friend from high school, Packouz worked as a massage therapist and later sold sheets he had purchased from manufacturers in other countries. Meanwhile, Diveroli was sent to Los Angeles around his junior year of high school, where he worked for his uncle and gained experience in the armaments trade before going into business with Packouz.
By leveraging his knowledge to outbid larger firms on smaller, more disposable deals, Efraim became a millionaire by the time he was eighteen years old. Everything he says about where he got his knowledge and how he used it is true, right down to the name of the website where the Department of Defense advertised weapon contracts for bidding. Thanks to Jonah Hill’s convincing performance in Don’t Look Up, the film War Dogs presented a disturbing depiction of the life of Diveroli.
Beyond the specifics of Packouz and Diveroli’s lives, the movie War Dogs accurately depicted the government’s role in those lives, such as how it was under pressure to level the playing field after being questioned for providing no-bid contracts to large firms. Numerous nuanced aspects of the narrative and personalities rang true. It’s true that the two of them got high before a meeting with top military brass, but it only adds to the ridiculousness of the situation. Some critics have suggested that Ana De Armas’ character, Packouz’s girlfriend Iz, was made up for dramatic effect, but the actor is based on a real person.
War Dogs: Based On A True Story
The Bush administration started favoring smaller contractors as sources of weapons and ammunition. Therefore, Diveroli’s firm was an ideal vendor.
Diveroli’s charisma, persuasiveness, and competitive spirit made him a perfect fit for these roles. But because of the same qualities, he often failed to see the forest for the trees.
To Diveroli, it was all about winning; if he didn’t come out on top, he might as well have done nothing. For this individual, Packouz suggested, victory alone wasn’t enough; he also took pleasure in seeing others fail.
As Packouz noted, “if the other man is happy, there’s still money on the table.” And that sums up the kind of guy he is perfect.
When the odds were stacked against Diveroli in May of 2007 in the midst of a disastrous Afghan campaign, he took advantage of the situation. AEY won a $300 million defense contract from the Pentagon despite bidding $50 million less than its closest competitor. The gun runners celebrated their success with a lot of champagne (which Diveroli was technically allowed to drink) and cocaine. Then they got down to the serious task of tracking down the coveted AK-47s.
Still, the contract’s initial excitement didn’t last long. When the young men were unable to track down the promised products, they resorted to buying them illegally from China.
It was clear that Efraim Diveroli was willing to bend the rules. They re-packaged the weapons in more unassuming packaging, erasing any Chinese characters that may give their origin away. Finally, AEY gave the government access to these contraband goods.
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In The War Dogs Where Are They Now?
Where are Packouz and Diveroli today, and what did they do following the events of War Dogs? Although Packouz and Diveroli were once best friends, they have grown apart in the years following the dismantling of their armaments operation and the events depicted in War Dogs. The role Packouz played in the new Todd Phillips movie has contributed to the recent shift in his life’s trajectory.
Teller and Phillips met with Packouz directly for the project, so many of the specifics are spot right. He definitely wasn’t embarrassed by his background and was invested in seeing this story realized. He even made an appearance on set and at the premiere. Packouz is now a full-time artist who runs a business selling electronic drum kits. He does this when he’s not taking care of his daughter or engaging in his favorite pastime of globetrotting. His days of smuggling firearms are long behind.
Whereas, Efraim Diveroli is taking a unique approach to his own personal history. In addition to his autobiography, “Once A Gun Runner,” which details his life, he filed suit against the makers of the film adaptation War Dogs for allegedly plagiarising his story without permission. It’s worth noting that, unlike the vast majority of notorious criminals portrayed in real crime shows and films, neither Packouz nor Diveroli spent any significant time behind bars.
In reality, Packouz spent only seven months on home arrest after pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges, while Diveroli went to jail for four years, as depicted in War Dogs. Although Packouz worked well with others on this project, Diveroli was not cooperative in the least. While Diveroli did not work on War Dogs, he also urged his followers on social media to avoid the film.
Last we heard, Diveroli was suing the producers of War Dogs for damages and a portion of the earnings. Even though Diveroli owns a media company called Incarcerated Entertainment, he spends the vast majority of his time fighting numerous legal fights, including the one with Warner Bros. At the same time, he had to cope with claims of withholding millions of dollars in income from Packouz and their associate Ralph Merrill.