Share this Story
List View
On
Off

15 Facts About War Dogs: The Real Truth About Efraim Diveroli & David Packouz

Shanee Edwards is a screenwriter who earned her master's degree at UCLA Film School. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her TV pilot, Ada and the Machine, is cur...

#1/16:

The real-life 'War Dogs'

David Packouz/Efraim Diveroli/Twitter/Warner Bros.
#1/16:

The real-life 'War Dogs'

It's been a hot second since their likenesses first came to life on the big screen, but for some reason, there's still a huge interest in Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz — and it's not really all that hard to understand why. These guys are crazy interesting. You can call Diveroli and Packouz a lot of things, but you can't call them boring.

The guys who were played by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in the 2016 film War Dogs are just as crazy in real life as their pot-smoking, gun-running movie counterparts. From profiting from war to spending time in the clink and getting caught up in lawsuits, the reality of the Diveroli/Packouz situation is as interesting (if not more interesting) than the film based on their lives.

Did we mention that one of them is also musically inclined? These guys are full of surprises. 

Originally published August 2016. Updated November 2017.

#2/16:

War and profit

Warner Bros.
#2/16:

War and profit

In 2008, two years after the insurgency in Afghanistan escalated, The New York Times reported on a small, Miami-based company that had become the main supplier of weapons to the Afghan army. The company was AEY Inc., run by Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, both in their early 20s. One federal contract they received was worth as much as $300 million.

#3/16:

'Rolling Stone' article

Warner Bros.
#3/16:

'Rolling Stone' article

In 2011, journalist Guy Lawson wrote an article on Diveroli and Packouz for Rolling Stone. This article became the book Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History. It was the Rolling Stone article that independently caught the attention of director Todd Phillips and actor Jonah Hill. But when Hill tried to get the movie rights to the article, he discovered that Phillips' production company already had them. Luckily it all worked out. 

#4/16:

Investigation

#4/16:

Investigation

When the U.S. government discovered that AEY Inc. had repackaged crumbling and outdated Chinese ammunition, Diveroli and Packouz were investigated. The story got a lot of media attention because they were so young and liked to smoke marijuana.

#5/16:

4 years in the clink

Warner Bros.
#5/16:

4 years in the clink

Diveroli was indicted on several dozen counts of fraud and pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy, earning him four years in prison. While he was out on bail, he was further sentenced for possessing a weapon while out on bond. Eventually Diveroli had his prison sentence reduced for assisting in the investigation.

#6/16:

House arrest

#6/16:

House arrest

Packouz was also convicted of fraud in 2011, but he received a much lighter sentence of only seven months under house arrest. He admitted his remorse to a Miami judge for the "embarrassment, stress and heartache that I have caused," according to Rolling Stone. Though he took responsibility for his wrongdoing, he thinks the government made him a scapegoat for the Bush administration's questionable practices when giving out war contracts.

#7/16:

'Once a Gun Runner'

#7/16:

'Once a Gun Runner'

Efraim Diveroli decided to write a memoir about being the youngest ever international arms dealer called Once a Gun Runner. His ghostwriter, Matthew B. Cox, was one of Diveroli's fellow inmates in prison. They began the book while locked up, according to EfraimDiveroli.com. You can get your copy at Amazon.

#8/16:

A lawsuit

Warner Bros.
#8/16:

A lawsuit

Diveroli is now suing War Dogs' director Todd Phillips, actor Bradley Cooper, RatPac Entertainment and Warner Bros., claiming that his memoir was unlawfully procured by Hollywood producers and infringed his name and likeness, according to Law360.

#9/16:

Playing a flawed character

#9/16:

Playing a flawed character

Hill, primarily a comedic actor, claims that playing Diveroli was difficult at times. "I would say it wasn’t that fun a lot of the time to play [Efraim], although it might seem like it. I remember we were in Romania, and I was just really bummed out, and I told Todd [Phillips], 'I'm just sad playing this guy.' And he was like, 'But he’s such a great character.' I guess it's hard to play someone who is hurting a lot of people and deceiving people who trust them, not to bring some of that home with you. I definitely felt that when I was doing it, but for me, it's just a great character and a great challenge," he said in a Warner Bros. press interview.

#10/16:

Miles Teller on playing Packouz

#10/16:

Miles Teller on playing Packouz

Miles Teller had an easier time playing David Packouz, mostly because he could relate to him. "With David, when the movie starts, he’s completely unaware of what this business model is. David kind of acts like the audience in a way, because as Efraim is explaining it to him, the audience is beginning to understand the infrastructure of what these guys are gonna do. David starts out kind of aimless and directionless, and that’s not all that long ago [for me]. I was just really interested in the dynamic between David and Efraim and what that friendship was," according to the Warner Bros. press site

#11/16:

Efraim Diveroli never met Jonah Hill

#11/16:

Efraim Diveroli never met Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill has played characters based on real-life people before, like Donnie Azoff in The Wolf of Wall Street and Peter Brand in Moneyball, but he never got the chance to meet the real Efraim Diveroli. Hill told Metro News, "I would always prefer to meet the person, but if someone was playing me in a movie, I would give them the best version of myself. A lot of times when you meet the person, you end up having to be a really good editor, choosing what to include, but always I found meeting the people around them ends up being more helpful to me, because they are giving you a warts-and-all portrayal of the person at that time."

#12/16:

Claims against Diveroli

#12/16:

Claims against Diveroli

In 2005, a young woman accused Diveroli of domestic violence and filed for a restraining order against him. She claimed he shoved her to the ground and would show up at her house drunk, and she was frightened.

According to the The New York Times, "The woman eventually did not appear in court, and her allegations were never ruled on. But in court papers, the woman said that after her relationship with Mr. Diveroli ended, he stalked her and left threatening messages."

#14/16:

Music man

#14/16:

Music man

According to The Guitar Channel, Packouz is also a musician who invented a drum machine controlled by a guitar pedal called the BeatBuddy. His invention was crowdsourced on Indiegogo and retails for around $300.

#16/16:

A hilarious war-comedy

Warner Bros.
#16/16:

A hilarious war-comedy

War Dogs also stars Bradley Cooper and Ana de Armas.

It's currently available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray on Amazon.

Close

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!

b h e a r d !

Welcome to the new SheKnows Community,

where you can share your stories, ideas

and CONNECT with millions of women.

Get Started