The Link Between Freeway Ricky Ross, the CIA, and the Reagan Administration (How Rick Ross Sold Cocaine for the U.S. Government)

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013 by Bryan Troupe in

To describe the Nicaragua incident more simply, the Reagan administration and the CIA were not happy with the government that Nicaragua had in place. So, the CIA began to fund a "militia" or anti-communist rebels whose sole responsibility was to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. These anti-communist rebels were called Contras. reference

However, these U.S. government funded rebels were far from heroic.The Contras' form of warfare was "one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping". "Contras systematically engage in violent prevalent that these may be said to be their principal means of waging war." reference
A Human Rights Watch report found that the Contras were guilty of targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination; kidnapping civilians; torturing and executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat; raping women; indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian homes; seizing civilian property; and burning civilian houses in captured towns. reference


It is now known, from the testimonies of a number of different sources, (including CIA operatives and informants, FBI informants, undercover DEA agents, and drug smugglers) that the U.S. government would routinely send planes filled with weapons to Nicaragua, offload the weapons to the Contras, and then reload the planes with cocaine to be brought back into the U.S. These planes delivered their shipments to different "hubs" around the U.S., the cocaine was then sold to communities (ex. Watts, Los Angeles,), and the money made from these profits were used to fund the Contras with more weapons, clothing, etc. 

Fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been vice-president at the time of the affair. Below is a list of those indicted/convicted:

  • Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense, was indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice on June 16, 1992. Weinberger received a pardon from George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992, before he was tried.
  • William Casey, Head of the CIA. Thought to have conceived the plan, was stricken ill hours before he would testify. Reporter Bob Woodward reported Casey knew of and approved the plan.
  • Robert C. McFarlane, National Security Adviser, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only two years of probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
  • Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only two years probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
  • Alan D. Fiers Chief of the CIA's Central American Task Force, convicted of withholding evidence and sentenced to one year probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
  • Clair George Chief of Covert Ops-CIA, convicted on two charges of perjury, but pardoned by President George H. W. Bush before sentencing.
  • Oliver North, member of the National Security Council convicted of accepting an illegal gratuity, obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destruction of documents, but the ruling was overturned since he had been granted immunity.
  • Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary was given immunity from prosecution on charges of conspiracy and destroying documents in exchange for her testimony.
  • Jonathan Scott Royster Liaison to Oliver North was given immunity from prosecution on charges of conspiracy and destroying documents in exchange for his testimony.
  • National Security Advisor John Poindexter was convicted of five counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that overturned these convictions.
  • Duane Clarridge An ex-CIA senior official, he was indicted in November 1991 on seven counts of perjury and false statements relating to a November 1985 shipment to Iran. Pardoned before trial by President George H. W. Bush.
  • Richard V. Secord Ex-major general in the Air Force who organized the Iran arms sales and Contra aid. He pleaded guilty in November 1989 to making false statements to Congress and was sentenced to two years of probation.
  • Albert Hakim A businessman, he pleaded guilty in November 1989 to supplementing the salary of North by buying a $13,800 fence for North with money from "the Enterprise", which was a set of foreign companies Hakim used in Iran-Contra. In addition, Swiss company Lake Resources Inc., used for storing money from arms sales to Iran to give to the Contras, plead guilty to stealing government property. Hakim was given two years of probation and a $5,000 fine, while Lake Resources Inc. was ordered to dissolve.

Oliver North and John Poindexter were indicted on multiple charges on March 16, 1988. North, indicted on 16 counts, was found guilty by a jury of three felony counts. The convictions were vacated on appeal on the grounds that North's Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated by the indirect use of his testimony to Congress which had been given under a grant of immunity. In 1990 Poindexter was convicted on several felony counts of conspiracy, lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, and altering and destroying documents pertinent to the investigation. His convictions were also overturned on appeal on similar grounds.
Oscar Danilo Blandón Reyes
Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes, also knows as Oscar Danilo Blandon, was born in Nicaragua in 1952. He headed Nicaragua's agricultural imports under Anastasio Somoza. When the Somoza government was overthrown in 1979, Blandon fled to the United States and raised money for the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN), which was a Contra group. Blandon was also a self admitted CIA operative. 
So, how did Blandon raise money in the U.S. for the FDN (Contra)? It should come as no surprise: He sold drugs and weapons.  According to many sources, including reporter Gary Webb, Blandón sold drugs and weapons to the Crips in Los Angeles. Blandón claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency protected him, allowing him to operate without fear of reprisal.  Blandón was a major drug trafficker, infamously supplying Ricky Ross with millions of dollars worth of cocaine on a daily basis.

In May 1992, Blandón was convicted in US District Court (San Diego) on the federal charge of "conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute." He was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, but was released due to time servedFollowing his imprisonment, Blandón was hired by the Drug Enforcement Administration and salaried at $42,000. Blandon was not a US Citizen/National, and is the only known foreigner in US history to not be deported following conviction on drug trafficking charges. The INS granted Blandón a green card, despite the criminal convictions, to allow him to work for the DEA. The DEA claims that Blandón is no longer on their payroll.
Gary Stephen Webb
Gary Webb was a Pulitzer prize-winning American investigative journalist and was best known for his 1996 "Dark Alliance" series of articles written for the San Jose Mercury News.  Webb investigated Nicaraguans linked to the CIA-backed Contras who had smuggled cocaine into the U.S. Their smuggled cocaine was distributed as crack cocaine in Los Angeles, with the profits funneled back to the Contras. 
Webb also alleged that this influx of Nicaraguan-supplied cocaine sparked, and significantly fueled, the widespread crack cocaine epidemic that swept through many U.S. cities during the 1980s. According to Webb, the CIA was aware of the cocaine transactions and the large shipments of drugs into the U.S. by Contra personnel. Webb charged that the Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution in order to raise money for the Contras, especially after Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited direct Contra funding.  

 In 2004, Webb was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, which the coroner's office judged a suicide. Although it is extremely rare, (to put it lightly), that anyone can shoot themselves TWICE in the head, Webb's death was ruled suicide. 
Journalist George Sanchez states that "the CIA's internal investigation by Inspector General Frederick Hitz vindicated much of Gary's reporting and observes that despite the campaign against Webb, "the government eventually admitted to more than Gary had initially reported" over the years.
"Freeway" Rick Ross
"Freeway" Rick Ross, (real name Ricky Donnell Ross), is best known for the "drug empire" that he presided over in Los Angeles, California, in the early 1980s. It is rumored that the nickname "Freeway" came from Ross' ownership of several properties along the Los Angeles-area Harbor Freeway as well as the existence of a freeway near his childhood home.
During the height of his drug dealing, Ross claims to have sold "$3 million in one day." According to the Oakland Tribune, "In the course of his rise, prosecutors estimate that Ross exported several tons of cocaine to New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and made more than $600 million in the process between 1983 and 1984."

In 1996, Ross was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of trying to purchase more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from a federal agent. Later that year, a series of articles by journalist Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News brought to light a connection between one of Ross's cocaine sources, Danilo Blandon, and the CIA as part of the Iran-Contra scandal.The decision in Ross's case was brought to a federal court of appeals where his sentence was reduced to 20 years. His sentence was then reduced further due to being a model prisoner, and he was moved to a halfway house in California in March 2009. Ross was released from prison on September 29, 2009.

It was through a friend that Ross was introduced to a connection to purchase cheap Nicaraguan cocaine: two Nicaraguan exiles, Oscar Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses Cantarero. Ross began distributing cocaine around $10,000 less per kilo than the average street price, his point of distribution being the Bloods and Crips street gangs. Eventually, Ross purchased his cocaine directly from Blandón and Meneses.

Ross's capture was facilitated by his career-long dealer Oscar Danilo Blandon, who "set up" Ross. Blandón had close ties with the Contras, and had met with Contra leader Enrique Bermúdez on several occasions. Blandón was the link between the CIA and Contras during the Iran-Contra affairGary Webb also interviewed Ross several times before breaking the story in 1996. [Rick Ross interview]

So, to summarize...

To summarize, the Reagan administration and the CIA were involved in trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. To do this, it was decided to fund anti-government rebels in Nicaragua called Contras. To fund the Contras, planes filled with cocaine were flown in from Nicaragua to the U.S., delivered to select locations and sold to drug dealers on the street. The money that was made from these drugs was then used to purchase weapons in the U.S. Finally, those weapons were flown back to Nicaragua to the hands of the Contras. 

One of the people that was involved in bringing the cocaine into the U.S. was Oscar Danilo Blandon, who was Nicaraguan born and also a CIA operative. Blandon personally sold Freeway Rick Ross cocaine on multiple occasions, and Rick Ross in turn sold the cocaine all over the U.S. 

This is an extremely brief summary of how the U.S. actually distributed cocaine to its own citizens. There is a lot more that can be discussed as well, such as Freeway Rick Ross only being sentenced to 5 years for his initial drug conviction although being found with millions of dollars of cocaine, Rick Ross being set up while still in prison by Oscar Danilo Blandon, Ross being sentenced back to prison for 20 years after the Blandon set up while Blandon avoided prison time and actually was paid as a DEA informant, the fact that George H. W. Bush was CIA director before becoming Vice President under Ronald Reagan - the same CIA that was involved in bringing planes loaded with cocaine from Nicaragua, etc. 

Declassified memos

The following are declassified memos sent to Oliver North, and record that North was repeatedly informed of Contra ties to drug trafficking. 

 In his entry for August 9, 1985, North summarizes a meeting with Robert Owen ("Rob"), his liaison with the contras. They discuss a plane used by Mario Calero, brother of Adolfo Calero, head of the FDN, to transport supplies from New Orleans to contras in Honduras. North writes: "Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S." [link here]

In a July 12, 1985 entry, North noted a call from retired Air Force general Richard Secord in which the two discussed a Honduran arms warehouse from which the contras planned to purchase weapons. (The contras did eventually buy the arms, using money the Reagan administration secretly raised from Saudi Arabia.) According to the notebook, Secord told North that "14 M to finance [the arms in the warehouse] came from drugs." [link here]

In 1987, the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations, led by Senator John Kerry, launched an investigation of allegations arising from reports, more than a decade ago, of contra-drug links. One of the incidents examined by the "Kerry Committee" was an effort to divert drug money from a counternarcotics operation to the contra war.
On July 28, 1988, two DEA agents testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime regarding a sting operation conducted against the Medellin Cartel. The two agents said that in 1985 Oliver North had wanted to take $1.5 million in Cartel bribe money that was carried by a DEA informant and give it to the contras. DEA officials rejected the idea.
The Kerry Committee report concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems." [link here]

In February 1987 a contra sympathizer in California told the FBI he believed FDN officials were involved in the drug trade. Dennis Ainsworth, a Berkeley-based conservative activist who had supported the contra cause for years, gave a lengthy description of his suspicions to FBI agents. The bureau's debriefing says that Ainsworth agreed to be interviewed because "he has certain information in which he believes the Nicaraguan 'Contra' organization known as FDN (Frente Democrático Nacional) has become more involved in selling arms and cocaine for personal gain than in a military effort to overthrow the current Nicaraguan Sandinista Government." Ainsworth informed the FBI of his extensive contacts with various contra leaders and backers, and explained the basis for his belief that members of the FDN were trafficking in drugs. [link here]

On October 31, 1996, the Washington Post ran a follow up story to the San Jose Mercury News series titled "CIA, Contras and Drugs: Questions on Links Linger." The story drew on court testimony in 1990 of Fabio Ernesto Carrasco, a pilot for a major Columbian drug smuggler named George Morales. As a witness in a drug trial, Carrasco testified that in 1984 and 1985, he piloted planes loaded with weapons for contras operating in Costa Rica. The weapons were offloaded, and then drugs stored in military bags were put on the planes which flew to the United States. "I participated in two [flights] which involved weapons and cocaine at the same time," he told the court.
Carrasco also testified that Morales provided "several million dollars" to Octaviano Cesar and Adolfo "Popo" Chamorro, two rebel leaders working with the head of the contras' southern front, Eden Pastora. The Washington Post reported that Chamorro said he had called his CIA control officer to ask if the contras could accept money and arms from Morales, who was at the time under indictment for cocaine smuggling. "They said [Morales] was fine," Chamorro told the Post. [link here]

All links to documents and material can be found here.

Actual audio of Oscar Danillo Blandon below (click links to listen)

July 21, 1990: Conversation outside Bonita Store restaurant between John Arman and Oscar Danillo Blandon in San Diego. Blandon talks with Arman about his work with the blacks in Los Angeles and how much crack has been sold. [link]
BLANDON: These people have been working with me 10 years.
ARMAN: (interrupts)
B: I've sold them about 2,000 or 4,000. I don't know. I don't remember how many.

Blandon and Arman discuss who Blandon's contacts are in Los Angeles. [link]
BLANDON: These ... these are the black people.
ARMAN: Black?!
B: Yeah. They control LA. These are the people that control L.A.
A: I don't like niggers.
B: Well ...
A: They pay cash though?
B: Yeah, they pay cash.

March 7, 1996: Alan Fenster, defense attorney for Rick Ross, asks Danilo Blandon where he was "running his operation." [link]
FENSTER: So you were running his Los Angeles operation, isn't that correct?
BLANDON: Yes. Now remember, we were running, just ... whatever we were running in L.A., it goes ... the profit was going to the Contra revolution. I don't know ...
F: I'm glad you reminded me of that.

Fenster asks about a converation between Blandon and Norwin Meneses, his contact person for the Contras. [link]
FENSTER: He (Meneses) said, "Hey, I'm selling drugs and I want you to help me" ...
F: so many words. Is that right?
B: To raise the money for the Contra revolution.

All links to audio, as well as photos and other documents can be found here


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