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Friday, May 12, 2006

Ricky Ross Meets Pontius Pilate 


Having just read Freakonomics (more about that later), I'm thinking about crack a lot.

The drug, not the fashion style. (Pull those pants up! Dang, I'm old.)

So let's see what Worldwide Underground says, starting with a quote from Gary Webb (not the musician):


"What I've attempted to demonstrate in my book was how the collapse of a brutal, pro-American dictatorship in Latin America, combined with a decision by corrupt CIA agents to raise money for a resistance movement by any means necessary, led to he formation of the nation's first major crack market in South Central Los Angeles, which led to the arming and the empowerment of LA's street gangs, which led to the spread of crack to black neighborhoods across the country, and to the passage of racially discriminatory sentencing laws that are locking up thousands of young black men today behind bars for most of their lives."-Gary Webb

Years ago an article had been released concerning the CIA's involvement with the crack epidemic and their alleged use of Ricky Ross, Los Angeles drug dealer, as a scapegoat for spread of crack cocaine and gang violence in CA....I really would like to know who came up with it. Like who sat in their basement with some coke thinking why don't I just cook this up with some baking soda and see what happens..2 days later..crack is born..I mean it's liek when someone asks how did they come up with the idea for the internet or recorded music. We look at it as if we always had it but someone had to invent it....

Now Webb [makes it] clear that the CIA did not distribute the crack but instead practiced "gross negligence" and a blind eye to the anticommunist groups transporting it here in the states. It has even been reported that there were kilos of coke on US army planes...or so they say. Now I can't say that the CIA did allow them to start this whole drug war whateva whateva but I can say this...the crack epidemic is still in full effect and the coke gotta be coming from somewhere and it obviously it ain't all made in the states so....how is it crossing over to American soil unnoticed?



But Webb was not part of the mainstream media. Far from it:


In 1996, journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles that forced a long-overdue investigation of a very dark chapter of recent U.S. foreign policy – the Reagan-Bush administration’s protection of cocaine traffickers who operated under the cover of the Nicaraguan contra war in the 1980s.

For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. He was attacked by journalistic colleagues at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the American Journalism Review and even the Nation magazine. Under this media pressure, his editor Jerry Ceppos sold out the story and demoted Webb, causing him to quit the Mercury News....

Though denigrated by much of the national news media, Webb’s contra-cocaine series prompted internal investigations by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department, probes that confirmed that scores of contra units and contra-connected individuals were implicated in the drug trade. The probes also showed that the Reagan-Bush administration frustrated investigations into those crimes for geopolitical reasons.



But Webb himself didn't fare so well:


Gary Webb, a courageous investigative journalist who was the target of one of the most ferocious media attacks on any reporter in recent history, was found dead Friday after an apparent suicide.


Maybe...maybe not:


Credible sources who were close to Gary Webb have stated that he was receiving death threats, being regularly followed, and that he was concerned about strange individuals who were seen on multiple occasions breaking into and leaving his house before his apparent 'suicide' on Friday morning.

Webb, a Pullitzer prize winning journalist, exposed CIA drug trafficking operations in a series of books and reports for the San Jose Mercury News. He was found dead on Friday morning in what the police said was an apparent suicide....

Ricky Ross, one of Gary Webb's primary sources had spoken to Gary in the days before his death. Gary told Ricky that he had seen men scaling down the pipes outside his home and that they were obviously not burglars but 'government people'. Gary also told Ricky that he had been receiving death threats and was being regularly followed. It was also mentioned that Gary was working on a new story concerning the CIA and drug trafficking.

Gary described the men around his home as 'professionals' who jumped from his balcony and ran away when Gary confronted them.



Back to December 1997, when the Justice Department issued a report about Ricky Ross:


Chapter VI: Ricky Ross

Ricky Ross was a central figure in the "Dark Alliance" series published in the San Jose Mercury News. According to the series, he not only was the trafficker who put Blandon's drugs on the street, he was the source of the crack epidemic in South Central Los Angeles, indeed, the entire United States. And, in an interesting twist, the series came to play a central role in the trial of Ross in 1996, when he tried to use its allegations as a shield against prosecution. In that case and elsewhere, Ross has claimed that he was the unwitting pawn of the United States government, which supplied him cocaine through Blandon, that he was unfairly targeted for prosecution, and that his prosecutors prevented him from getting a fair trial in which he could air his charges of official perfidy.

The OIG has endeavored to examine the facts behind Ross' claims. To this end, we interviewed, among others, Ross, Blandon, Ronald Lister, an FBI informant from Los Angeles (LA CI-1), and Blandon associates Ivan Torres and Carlos Rocha, as well as the law enforcement agents and the Assistant United States Attorney, L. J. O'Neale, involved in their prosecutions. Ross associate Ollie Newell refused our request to be interviewed while in prison in Indiana and did not return calls made to him after his release. The OIG also reviewed DEA and FBI files on Blandon and Ross; the trial transcripts and U.S. Attorney's Office files from the San Diego and Ohio prosecutions of Ross and the "Big Spender" trial in Los Angeles; and various statements made by Ross to the media.

A. Ross' Criminal History

Aside from the federal investigations and arrests of Ross (discussed below), his criminal record reflects a number of local arrests, but few convictions. A 1978 burglary charge was later dismissed. The disposition of a July 1981 arrest for assault with a deadly weapon is not indicated on Ross' criminal record, nor is the disposition for a March 1982 grand theft auto charge. He obtained an acquittal on July 1984 charges of receiving stolen property. An August 1984 charge for providing false identification to a police officer was later dismissed. In June 1986, Ross was again charged with grand theft auto, but the charges were dismissed the same day. On July 5, 1987, Ross was charged with assault with a firearm on a peace officer and possession for sale of a controlled substance. This charge was later dismissed due to police misconduct. (This charge will be discussed in detail below.) On November 29, 1989, Ross was arrested for assault on a police officer. According to the Presentence Report prepared by the United States Probation Department, this charge was dismissed on April 5, 1990 because of Ross' "pending federal cases in other states."

B. Ross' Statements about his Drug Empire to the Media and OIG

Even as Ross was avoiding prosecution, he was building a drug-dealing organization that, at the peak of his business in 1984 and 1985, according to Ross, was bringing him profits of $1 to $2 million a day. He later told Los Angeles Times writer Jessie Katz: "You know how some people feel that God put them down here to be a preacher? I felt that he had put me down to be the cocaine man." In this 1994 interview, Ross told of having workers that he paid $1,000 a week as bodyguards, lookouts, drivers, money counters, crack cookers, and garbage men to dispose of incriminating evidence. Katz wrote that Ross had converted "a curbside operation into ... the Wal-Mart of cocaine" and that "his coast-to-coast conglomerate was selling more than 500,000 rocks a day."

According to Katz, Ross would pick up million-dollar shipments in armed convoys of inconspicuous cars, one of which was always ready to speed off as a decoy. The organization's cookers used boat oars to convert huge pots of powder cocaine into crack, working in a "cook house" with digital scales and a restaurant quality gas stove. Ross told Katz that he had a money house with a one-ton safe and currency-counting machines, a crack house with an underground tunnel leading from a closet to the street, and a party house with a satellite dish, NBA-caliber basketball hoops, and a maid. He recalled that one day he just started counting money and ended up looking at a pile of over $2.8 million in cash. Katz reported that, "when the market exploded in 1984," Ross was dealing directly with the Colombian cartels, who supplied him with 50 to 100 kilos a day. With that, Ross was able to operate dozens of "rock houses;" operate three "ounce houses," which serviced hundreds of mid-level dealers; and service "his own private list of V.I.P. customers," about 30 to 50 "big-time dealers."

Ross told the OIG that at the height of his own dealing, he supplied kilograms of crack to customers in St. Louis, New Orleans, Texas, Kansas City, Oklahoma, Indiana, Seattle and other cities in California. Some people just bought quantities of crack on a regular basis. Others were more like partners, whom Ross would teach the business and take a share of the profits. Ross also ran crack houses in Los Angeles where he distributed his own crack. The buyers at Ross' crack houses were generally buying for resale on the street corner, not for personal consumption. Ross stated: "What we called it was like, we called it the double-up, you know, when you go and you spend $100, and you can make $100. So it was like a job almost where you can invest. If you got $100 to invest, you can turn $100 into $200." Ross noted that "thousands" of people worked for him at the height of his business, and that he directly controlled about 30 people.



Here's another version of the same story:


VI. Ricky Ross

Ricky Ross was a central figure in the Mercury News articles. The articles suggested that, because of drugs supplied to Ross by Blandon, Ross was the source of the crack epidemic in Los Angeles and perhaps throughout the country. The articles also suggested that crack cocaine was not available in South Central Los Angeles until Blandon and Ross brought it there and that Ross established the first ties between dealers in South Central Los Angeles and Colombian suppliers.

In attempting to analyze these claims, we interviewed many of the subjects of the articles, including Ross and Blandon. We talked to social scientists and law enforcement officials, and we reviewed social science literature, data from law enforcement agencies, and data from federal public health organizations in order to understand Ross' and Blandon's roles in the emergence of crack. Based on our review, we concluded that the facts do not support the suggestion in the articles.

It appears that Ross became involved in drug trafficking in 1981 or 1982. Blandon probably began supplying Ross with cocaine in late 1983 or early 1984. The amount that Blandon initially supplied Ross was small, but increased over time, particularly after Blandon gained access to a Colombian supplier around 1985. We could not determine with precision how much cocaine Ross sold in total, or how much Blandon provided to Ross, since their estimates varied widely. However, during Ross' testimony at a trial in 1991, he estimated that he sold roughly 2,000 to 3,000 kilograms (approximately two to three tons) over the seven-year period he dealt drugs. Blandon estimated in a conversation with an informant that he sold 2,000 to 4,000 kilograms of cocaine to black drug dealers. While these estimates involve a massive amount of drugs, it clearly was not enough to spark the crack epidemic. To put it in perspective, the DEA estimated that 44 tons of cocaine entered the United States in 1980 alone, and 40 to 48 tons in 1981, well before Blandon began supplying Ross.

Furthermore, there were many cocaine traffickers who dealt in larger quantities of cocaine than Ross. Ross was not the first crack dealer in Los Angeles, and he admitted that a number of dealers competed with him there. Ross also was not the only dealer in Los Angeles with a Colombian connection. In addition, Blandon was selling cocaine to Ross at generally prevailing rates for cocaine, not significantly discounted prices as suggested by the Mercury News. By the time that Ross' operation reached its peak -- in 1985 according to Ross -- crack was prevalent in South Central Los Angeles and many other dealers were vying for a share of this market. In short, although Ross and Blandon certainly contributed to the crack epidemic in South Central Los Angeles, we did not find that they were singularly or primarily responsible for it.

Ross told the Mercury News that, "I'm not saying I wouldn't have been a dope dealer without Danilo [Blandon]," but claimed he would not have been as big a dealer. This is far from clear. Blandon was certainly a major supplier for Ross, but there were plenty of others. Ross was an ambitious entrepreneur who thrived in optimal market conditions: the Colombian cocaine glut had reduced cocaine prices, and crack was well-suited for cheap, easy production and simple, ready-to-use distribution. These factors were more responsible than anything else for the rise of crack cocaine, and they were not a creation of Ross, Blandon, or any other individual.

With regard to the suggestion in the Mercury News that Blandon and Ross were responsible for the spread of crack cocaine across the country, we concluded that this is pure hyperbole. It is not possible to pinpoint the manner in which crack cocaine spread throughout the United States, and any efforts to explain this so simply are dubious. Experts still do not agree on where crack originated or the cause of its rise. In addition, Ross' own accounts of the quantities of cocaine he sold and when he sold it in different cities reveal that the amounts were not significant enough to have created a crack crisis in those cities and that crack was already available when he began to supply it.

We also examined the investigations and prosecutions of Ross by law enforcement authorities. Ross was initially investigated by the LASD and local police, who established a task force targeting him in 1987, which became known as the "Freeway Ricky Task Force." Their efforts to prosecute Ross were unsuccessful because of misconduct by members of the task force. As a result of their investigation, however, Ross decided to move to Cincinnati in 1987.

Ross continued to deal drugs from Cincinnati, and a number of jurisdictions pursued investigations of him. In 1989, he was indicted on federal drug charges in Cincinnati. He pled guilty to a drug conspiracy count and agreed to cooperate with authorities in Los Angeles who were prosecuting LASD deputy sheriffs for corruption. Ross testified at a trial against the deputy sheriffs in Los Angeles in 1991, but the case ended with a hung jury. Several of the defendants later pled guilty after being offered favorable deals. As a result of his testimony in the corruption trial, Ross received a substantial reduction in his sentence -- he was sentenced to 51 months in prison rather than the 121 to 151 months specified by his plea agreement.

Ross was also convicted on state drug charges in Texas while serving his federal sentence, and he served an additional nine months in a Texas prison after finishing his federal sentence. Ross was paroled from the Texas prison in September 1994.

In March 1995, Ross was arrested in San Diego by the DEA when he attempted to sell 100 kilograms of cocaine to an undercover DEA officer in a deal Ross negotiated with Blandon, who was cooperating with the DEA. According to testimony at trial, Ross was targeted by the DEA after his release from prison when he contacted Blandon and sought to arrange a cocaine purchase. Ross' defense at trial was that he was entrapped by the government. The jury rejected his defense and convicted him. Because of the quantity of drugs Ross had sought to purchase, and because of Ross' two prior felony drug convictions in Cincinnati and Texas, he received a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Ross claims that he was improperly targeted and arrested by the government in retaliation for his cooperation in the 1991 corruption trial against the Los Angeles deputy sheriffs. As evidence of this, Ross stated that he was targeted by the DEA before he was even released from prison in September 1994. Our review did not support this contention, and the trial court also rejected Ross' claim. We found that the DEA did not initiate an investigation on Ross until after he contacted Blandon in October 1994 and indicated that he was interested in purchasing cocaine, shortly after Ross was released from prison.

The Mercury News articles also discussed a motion filed in Ross' trial by the prosecutor to preclude the defense from asserting that the CIA was involved with Blandon's sale of drugs for the Contras. The prosecutor said he filed the motion because he believed the claim had no basis in fact and was merely a calculated effort to deflect attention from the evidence of Ross' drug trafficking. Contrary to assertions in the Mercury News, the court denied the government's motion, stating "I don't see that the national security and the interests of the United States are greatly impinged by this." Ross' counsel did not raise the CIA issue at trial. After Ross' conviction, at the time of his sentencing in 1996, the CIA filed a declaration stating that it had identified no records regarding Ross and no records that the CIA had "any kind of a operational, contractual, or employment relationship with" Blandon, Meneses, or Lister. As discussed previously, we also found that there was no such relationship.

Ross also complained that he was a "little fish" who received a life sentence for his drug dealing, while Blandon was a "big fish" who received a light punishment. Although such claims of disparate treatment are subjective and highly charged, Ross can hardly be called a "little fish." Allegations that Blandon was a large-scale supplier of cocaine are certainly true; allegations that Ross was a simple street-level dealer are not. Blandon and Ross were both big distributors, similar to the relationship between a wholesaler and a major retailer in the legitimate business world.

Ross has also suggested a racial motivation to explain why Blandon received more lenient treatment than he did. While such a claim is often difficult to confirm or refute, we did not find evidence corroborating it. First, we note that Ross himself received a lenient sentence after his arrest in Cincinnati, when he cooperated with the government. Ross said to the OIG: "My whole time in prison I never seen anybody beside myself on the first deal that I got sell as much dope as Danilo and get probably the best deal that anybody ever got in America." (Emphasis added). In addition, according to the prosecutor and the DEA agent handling the Ross case, he was given an opportunity to reduce his sentence by cooperating against other drug traffickers after his arrest in San Diego in 1995, but they assessed his efforts as "self-serving and ineffectual."

In the end, the reason for the disparity between Blandon's and Ross' sentences was that the government moved for a downward departure for Blandon based on his substantial cooperation and made no such motion for Ross. While Blandon greatly assisted the government, Ross did not. We recognize, however, the perception that exists with respect to differing treatment of defendants, and the potential of allegations of bias that can be raised when reduction of sentences are granted to certain defendants but not others. For this reason, many U.S. Attorney's Offices have formed committees to consider whether it is appropriate to recommend reduced sentences, and to ensure that similarly-situated defendants are treated similarly. Such committees take important decisions out of the hands of a single prosecutor and increase the likelihood of equal treatment, as well as the perception of fairness. Although we do not know if the use of such a committee would have resulted in any change in the Ross or Blandon cases, we believe that in general they will result in fairer and more consistent sentencing decisions, as well as enhancing the appearance of fairness.



So maybe Ricky Ross wasn't Mr. Crack USA, but he was obviously dealing. Back in the 1980s, John Kerry was involved in this issue, but was ignored by the MSMs:


Even when a special Senate subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations, chaired by Senator John Kerry, released its long-awaited report, Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, big-media coverage constituted little more than a collective yawn. The 1,166-page report--it covered not only the covert operations against Nicaragua, but also relations with Panama, Haiti, the Bahamas, and other countries involved in the drug trade--was the first to document U.S. knowledge of, and tolerance for, drug smuggling under the guise of national security. "In the name of supporting the contras," the Kerry Committee concluded in a sad but stunning indictment, officials "abandoned the responsibility our government has for protecting our citizens from all threats to their security and well-being."

Yet when the report was released on April 13, 1989, coverage was buried in the back pages of the major newspapers and all but ignored by the three major networks. The Washington Post ran a short article on page A20 that focused as much on the infighting within the committee as on its findings; the New York Times ran a short piece on A8; the Los Angeles Times ran a 589-word story on A11. (All of this was in sharp contrast to those newspapers' lengthy rebuttals to the Mercury News series seven years later --collectively totalling over 30,000 words.) ABC's Nightline chose not to cover the release of the report. Consequently, the Kerry Committee report was relegated to oblivion; and opportunities were lost to pursue leads, address the obstruction from the CIA and the Justice Department that Senate investigators say they encountered, and both inform the public and lay the issue to rest. The story, concedes Doyle McManus, the Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, "did not get the coverage that it deserved."



That would change several years later:


The first New York Times article on the subject (9/21/96) foreshadowed much that was to follow. Headlined "Inquiry Is Ordered Into Reports of Contra Cocaine Sales in U.S.," the news story focused on assurances from Central Intelligence Agency director John Deutch and unnamed "former senior CIA officials" that the Mercury News assertions were groundless. "I regard these allegations with the utmost seriousness," Deutch said. "They go to the heart and integrity of the CIA enterprise."...

Denials from the CIA carried little weight with much of the public, particularly African-Americans outraged by the series. Protests mounted in cities from Los Angeles to Washington, and members of the Black Congressional Caucus demanded federal investigations.

October brought a fierce counterattack from the Washington Post, the New York Times and L.A. Times, all of which published lengthy news articles blasting the Mercury News series. In the process, a number of recurrent debunking themes quickly gained the status of media truisms.

"Last month," Newsweek reported in November (11/11/96), "the Merc started getting trashed -- by its peers. In turn, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times poked holes in the story, exhaustively and mercilessly."

In his role as the Post's in-house media critic, Howard Kurtz took numerous swipes at Webb that grew increasingly dismissive; one item(10/28/96), headed "A Webb of Conspiracy," ended with the smug one-liner, "Oliver Stone, check your voice mail." Liberal columnist Mary McGrory, based at the Post, echoed what she was hearing all around her in an Oct. 27 piece:
"The San Jose story has been discredited by major publications, including the Post."

By November, a clear orthodoxy had taken hold. Certain de rigueur phrases began appearing in news articles: "Many of the series' conclusions have been widely challenged" (Washington Post, 11/6/96); "media critics and other newspapers have questioned the Mercury News' findings" (AP in New York Times, 11/7/96).

Under the headline "CIA Chief Denies Crack Conspiracy," the New York Times (11/16/96) indicated that reputable media outlets--and reputable spooks--had rejected the Mercury News series: "Agency officials said they had no evidence of any such plot. Other news organizations were not able to confirm the plot. Still, the rumor mill continued to grind, seemingly unstoppable."

The next day, Times columnist Maureen Dowd took the company line: "Mr. Deutch and investigators for several major newspapers have found no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that grew out of a series in the San Jose Mercury News suggesting a CIA role in the spread of crack in America's inner cities."



Reason Magazine didn't buy it either:


But nothing, nothing, has stung [the left] like the defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua....The fact that Ronald Reagan hated them so much was the best validation of all. Who could have believed that those ungrateful peasants would fling the Sandinistas overboard the first chance they got?

For the left, bad journalism has always been the continuation of war by other means, and journalism doesn't get much worse than Dark Alliance. It's Gary Webb's book-and-a-half-length expansion of the sensational series he published two years ago in the San Jose Mercury News. The series argued that the U.S.-backed contra rebels, whose war forced the Sandinistas to hold free elections, funded themselves by flooding the United States with cocaine. Contra cocaine, Webb claims, not only set off the nationwide explosion of low-priced crack but also triggered the rise of black street gangs in Los Angeles. And all the while the CIA stood by, winking and nodding....

If the plot line of Dark Alliance sounds familiar, that's because it's appeared in other works of fantasy. The belief that the U.S. government forced cocaine into the ghetto in an attempt at genocide has attained urban myth status in the black community. Substitute the FBI for the CIA and the Mafia for the contras, and you have the plot of Mario Van Peebles' 1996 film Panther....

Webb tries to disguise them, but the bloodlines between the [1986] Christic Institute lawsuit and Dark Alliance are quite direct. The bulk of the book's Nicaragua reporting was done by Swiss journalist Georg Hodel, who worked closely with the Christic Institute. (The firmness of Hodel's grip on reality may be judged by the other conspiracy white whale he has been pursuing for years--that the Rockefeller family was the secret power behind Hitler.)...

The Christic pedigree is important because of what it says about intellectual honesty. The institute's lawsuit was a fraud from the start. At its heart was an affidavit supposedly based on testimony of 79 secret witnesses whose identity could not be revealed because their lives were in danger. When the judge finally warned Christic to either reveal the names or withdraw the affidavit, it turned out that several were listed twice. Others were newspaper reporters who knew nothing more about the case than they had been told by Christic officials. One of the most important was someone known merely as "David" from Costa Rica, whom no one from Christic had ever met or spoken with; he was a supposed barroom acquaintance of another witness, who didn't know his last name or address, and hadn't seen him in years. And some witnesses obviously couldn't have feared for their lives if their names were disclosed because they were already dead....

This same flexible approach to the facts colors Dark Alliance from cover to cover....

He recounts the tale of a captured Colombian narcotrafficker named Allen Raul Rudd, who explained how then-Vice President George Bush had flown down to Colombia to strike a bargain with the Medellin cocaine cartel. The agreement was that the cartel could fly as much cocaine as it wanted into U.S. military bases as long as it sold guns to the contra rebels in Nicaragua. The deal was sealed by Bush and cartel leader Jorge Ochoa, who posed for a photo together in front of suitcases stuffed with cash.

To buy that story, you have to believe not only that Bush broke all existing Washington records for venality but that he was at once clever enough to give the slip to the phalanx of U.S. reporters who dog the vice president's every step, yet stupid enough to pose for a photo that would blow the whole thing. Then you've got to concede that Jorge Ochoa was even stupider, because even as the United States was pushing Colombia into a war on the cartels that would end in Ochoa's death, he never went on television to wave around a picture that would have proven that the biggest pusher of all was sitting in the White House....

The misrepresentations run the gamut from trivial acts of self-aggrandizement, like Webb's claim that he won a Pulitzer Prize that was really awarded to the entire staff of the Mercury News, to calculated character assassinations that would be grounds for horsewhipping if they were not so obviously mendacious. Does Webb really think that anyone is going to believe that Seymour Hersh--the reporter who broke not only the My Lai massacre but the story of CIA monitoring of domestic dissident groups--is a CIA tool?



On the other hand:


The fact that Gary Webb is a jerk does not, of course, necessarily mean that the CIA and the contras weren't cocaine merchants, any more than the fact that Joe McCarthy was a jerk proved there were no communists. Government agencies can and do run dangerously off-track all the time, and the peril is greatest when you're talking about an organization like the CIA, which not only is imbued with a sense of higher purpose (protecting national security) but shrouded in secrecy as well.

Moreover, if the contras had managed to skirt all entanglement with narcotraffickers, it would make them unique among the world's insurgent movements of the past 20 years. Every guerrilla group, from the anti-communist mujahideen in Afghanistan to the nutball Maoists of Peru's Shining Path, has at least brushed shoulders with the drug trade....A few contra pilots and their associates--particularly on the so-called southern front of the war, where the commander was the erratic ex-Sandinista war hero Eden Pastora--succumbed. But to label that a CIA-contra-cocaine connection is like trying to label the Pentagon a pusher because a private in Fort Hood, Texas, sells a lid to his girlfriend's brother.

Much more serious is the inevitable moment when it occurs to guerrilla leaders that dope represents a potentially lucrative source of funding: An army travels on its wallet, and cash flow, be it from Moscow or Washington, can be erratic. The temptation has proven irresistible to many insurgencies, especially in Latin America; drug money is a major source of revenue to all the various guerrilla groups in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, and the Marxist Revolutionary Forces of Columbia (FARC) may be the biggest narcotrafficking gang in the world.

The contras--especially before the United States began funding them in 1981
--had the same money problems as their Marxist counterparts. They turned to some of the same solutions. One contra faction based in Guatemala raised money for a time through bank robberies, car thefts, and kidnappings. But in late 1981, as American money began to flow to a united contra front based in Honduras, new commander Enrique Bermudez ordered an end to the Al Capone stuff. His officers complained: If robberies were good enough for the communists in El Salvador and Colombia, why not for us? Because, Bermudez said, nobody in Moscow cared what Soviet clients did to raise money. In Washington, it would be a different story.

There was a serious schism with the contras over the issue, and Bermudez had to oust a number of officers to make it stick. But he finally prevailed, in large part because there was no longer any need for the contras to pay their own way. From 1981 to 1984, the United States put up $72 million for the contras, more than enough to fund them even as their numbers increased to 15,000. Congress, in a spat with Reagan, closed the spigot in 1985, and the contras began withdrawing from Nicaragua, triggering Oliver North's now-infamous efforts to enlist the Ayatollah Khomeini in the anti-Sandinista cause. In 1986, another appropriation of $100 million started the war up again....



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Comments:
np..yay i'm quoted..notice how I can't be too oppinionated on this one..I'm still afraid they'll do me like Webb and blacklist me or tap my phone lines because they suspect me as a "terrorist"
 
What of the claims that crack was widespread in LA before Ross even got involved?
 
Please note that Ricky Ross should not be confused with Rick Ross.

And Billy Idol should not be confused with Billy Joel.

And I already talked about the two Gary Webbs.
 
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