August 25, 1996 in Nation/World

Groups Demand Probe Of Crack, Contras Link Inner City Activists Furious That Government May Have Encouraged Drug Abuse

Gary Webb And Pamela Kramer San Jose Mercury News
 

Black groups in Los Angeles and elsewhere Friday demanded a full-scale investigation of the San Jose Mercury News’ recent revelations that CIA-linked drug dealers provided cocaine and sophisticated weapons to the gangs of Los Angeles.

The Black American Political Association of California, Los Angeles chapter, took to the steps of Los Angeles’ city hall and its city council chambers to demand “an immediate, full, thorough and complete investigation … to determine not only the identities and roles of those who participated in the activity, but also those who covered it up, protected it and knowingly tolerated it.”

The Mercury News, in a three-part series, reported that Danilo Blandon, a former Nicaraguan government official, was the conduit for thousands of kilos of cocaine that flowed to Los Angeles street gangs between 1982 and 1986. Blandon, who pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges in 1992 and went to work for the Drug Enforcement Administration, testified recently that he began selling cocaine in Los Angeles’ black neighborhoods as a way of raising money for a Nicaraguan guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, an army commonly known as the Contras.

Blandon has testified that he was one of the army’s top civilian officials in California.

Sweet Alice Harris, a community leader who has lived in South Central Los Angeles for 40 years, was blunt in her reaction to the allegations.

“The worst thing you can do is hurt a mother’s children, and they have killed our children,” she said. “I’m as mad as I can be now. I’m real mad.”

Harris repeated the stories that have pervaded the black community in South Central for years - stories of truckloads of guns and ammunition appearing mysteriously on neighborhood streets; of authorities seeming to encourage drug abuse by young blacks, and even encouraging their gang wars on each other.

Said Theresa Allison, founder of a group called Mothers Reclaiming our Children: “We’ve been portrayed as bad people” and bad parents when in fact, many in the community believe, parents have been up against a powerful and mysterious enemy in the fight for their children’s futures.

At Friday’s meeting, the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion by Councilman Nate Holden that the city ask the U.S. attorney general to “conduct a complete, thorough and independent investigation of serious and credible allegations as to the ongoing sale of illegal street drugs to American citizens of African-American descent, with the apparent approval of the United States Government, on behalf of and to support the efforts of the Nicaraguan contra army.”

In his motion, Holden said that “these allegations, even if unproven, raise serious and very disturbing questions which further support longstanding suspicions that there is a connection between drugs in the inner city and our CIA and foreign policy activities.”

Even if the allegations are found to be untrue, he wrote, a thorough investigation could “allay community suspicions and fears …”

In Nashville, Tenn., meanwhile, Washington, D.C. radio talk-show host Joe Madison urged reporters at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention to use their influence to push for a full investigation.

“I will challenge them to use all of their editorial influence and resources to get Congress and both presidential candidates to investigate this matter immediately, including appointing a special prosecutor,” Madison said in a prepared statement.

“Freeway Rick” Ross, the former crack cocaine king of Los Angeles, was Blandon’s biggest customer during the 1980s and his first target when the Nicaraguan became an undercover operative for the DEA. Records show Blandon and the DEA set Ross up for a sting, and Blandon was the star witness during Ross’ cocaine conspiracy trial last March. Ross and two other men were convicted and were originally scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

However, that was postponed after Ross’ attorney, Alan Fenster, filed a motion for a new trial based on the revelations contained in the Mercury News’ series.

xxxx ‘DARK ALLIANCE’ The San Jose Mercury News three-part series, “Dark Alliance,” including sound-clips, government documents, photos and biographies, is available on the Internet. Point your browser to: http://www.sjmercury.com/drugs/.


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