Former crack cocaine kingpin “Freeway” Ricky Ross, whose case renewed a national controversy about alleged CIA involvement in drug dealing, was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday by a judge who said Ross cannot use unproven allegations about the CIA to escape the maximum punishment for being an “eager participant” in the drug trade.
“Mr. Ross does not get a free pass to deal drugs the rest of his life and addict further people because of something that happened in the 1980s,” said U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff.
Huff added that accusations that the Central Intelligence Agency condoned drug-dealing in South Central Los Angeles by sympathizers of the Contra rebels are based on “innuendoes, speculation and rumors.”
In a courtroom packed with friends and family members of Ross, Huff said that Ross was “an eager participant” in a drug deal put together by a convicted drug dealer-turned-government informant Oscar Danilo Blandon. Under a new federal law aimed at repeat drug criminals, Ross will not be eligible for parole.
Ross, 36, asked Huff for leniency on the basis that Blandon, his one-time supplier before both men went to prison, had tricked him into going back into the drug business.
“I was broke, I had been in prison for five years,” Ross said. “They offered me a chance to make $2 million. They knew my neighborhood was infested by drugs. … I was trying to do what was right.”