November 16, 1996 in Nation/World

Drug Dealer ‘Freeway Rick’ Alters Claims

Washington Post
 
Tags:ethics

The drug dealer who first claimed the CIA encouraged and assisted Nicaraguan drug traffickers to sell cocaine in Los Angeles to finance the contra rebels has modified his charge.

The dealer, Ricky “Freeway Rick” Ross, now says the U.S. government “condoned, if not actively supported … the Nicaraguan contras in their drug dealing,” according to papers filed by his lawyer this week in U.S. District Court in San Diego.

Los Angeles attorney Alan Fenster is using the issue of alleged government involvement in drug dealing as one reason Judge Marilyn L. Huff should set aside Ross’ narcotics trafficking conviction last March.

In a September court hearing, Fenster cited an August series of stories in the San Jose Mercury News by reporter Gary Webb as “compelling documentation” that “the CIA involvement (in drug trafficking by Nicaraguans) included establishing and condoning the distribution and sale by members of the contra organization of massive amounts of cocaine within the United States, as well as actively assisting in such illegal conduct.”

The articles said Ross bought a substantial portion of the cocaine he sold from a Nicaraguan trafficker, Oscar Danilo Blandon, who was linked to the contras and CIA. Based on that information, Fenster asked the court to set aside Ross’ conviction, or give him a new trial, arguing that “if the full story could be presented to this court, the granting of a motion to dismiss for governmental misconduct would surely be appropriate.”

The Mercury News series provoked such an uproar within the African American community that it triggered CIA, Justice Department and congressional investigations. Huff on Sept. 13 delayed Ross’ sentencing so she could study the allegations and hear the CIA’s response. She is now scheduled to rule on Fenster’s motions next Tuesday.

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