15 Facts About the Real War Dogs, Efraim Diveroli & David Packouz

by Shanee Edwards
Feb 6, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. ET

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. 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 amazingly interesting. You can call Diveroli and Packouz a lot of things, but you can't call them boring.

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. 

Here's what you should know about the two gun runners and what they're up to now.

A version of this article was originally published in August 2016. 

1 /15: War and Profit

1/15 :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 Diveroli and Packouz, both in their early 20s. One federal contract it received was worth as much as $300 million.

2 /15: 'Rolling Stone' Article

2/15 :'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 HistoryIt 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.

3 /15: Investigation

3/15 :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When the U.S. government discovered that AEY Inc. had repackaged crumbling and outdated Chinese ammunition, Diveroli and Packouz were investigated.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.

4 /15: 4 Years in the Clink

4/15 :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. When 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.

5 /15: House Arrest

5/15 :House Arrest

Packouz was also convicted of fraud in 2011, but he received a much lighter sentence: 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.

6 /15: 'Once a Gun Runner'

6/15 :'Once a Gun Runner'

Diveroli decided to write a memoir about being the youngest-ever international arms dealer, titled 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 Diveroli's website. You can get your copy at Amazon.

7 /15: A Lawsuit

7/15 :A Lawsuit

In 2016, Diveroli sued 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. He later dismissed the charges, but recently filed a new suit against the coauthor of his book.

8 /15: Playing a Flawed Character

8/15 :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," Hill said in a Warner Bros. press interview.

9 /15: Miles Teller on Playing Packouz

9/15 :Miles Teller on Playing Packouz

Teller had an easier time playing 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," Teller said, according to the Warner Bros. press site

10 /15: Efraim Diveroli Never Met Jonah Hill

10/15 :Efraim Diveroli Never Met Jonah Hill

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."

11 /15: Claims Against Diveroli

11/15 :Claims Against Diveroli

In 2005, a young woman accused Diveroli of domestic violence and filed 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."

12 /15: Violent Past

12/15 :Violent Past

In 2006, the police were called when Diveroli and Packouz got into a fight with a valet parking attendant who refused to give Diveroli his car keys. According to the The New York Times, "A witness said Mr. Diveroli and Mr. Packouz both beat the man; police photographs showed bruises and scrapes on his face and back."

But the police also found a fake ID on Diveroli that said he was four years older than he really was, despite Diveroli having turned 21, legal drinking age, the day before. According to the report, Diveroli said about the fake ID, "I don't even need that anymore."

13/15 :Music Man

According to The Guitar Channel, Packouz is also a musician who invented the BeatBuddy, a drum machine controlled by a guitar pedal. His invention was crowdsourced on Indiegogo and retails for around $300. He's now the CEO of a music company called Singular Sound and partnered with Guitars Over Guns to provide his musical products to disadvantaged youth.

14 /15: 'Scarface' as Inspiration

14/15 :'Scarface' as Inspiration

The War Dogs movie poster is inspired by the poster for the ultra-violent gangster film Scarface, starring Al Pacino, which was also set in Miami. References to Scarface are made throughout the entire film, implying that both Diveroli and Packouz looked up to the character Tony Montana and his gun-toting, outlaw lifestyle.

15 /15: A Hilarious War-Comedy

15/15 :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.