Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 11:08:42 -0500
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>>> Item number 8305, dated 96/08/25 13:37:17 -- ALL
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 1996 13:37:17 CDT
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From: Marnie Regen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Blacks Demand Investigation into CIA Drug Links
Blacks seek probe of CIA drug links Follow-up: Cocaine flowed to Los Angeles in the '80s
Reaction in L.A., Nashville to MN account of 'crack' cocaine explosion
By Gary Webb and Pamela Kramer, San Jose Mercury News
24 August 1995
Black groups in Los Angeles and elsewhere Friday demanded a
full-scale investigation of the Mercury News' recent revelations that
CIA-linked drug dealers provided cocaine and sophisticated weapons to
the gangs of L.A.
The Black American Political Association of California's Los Angeles
Chapter took to the steps of L.A.'s 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 that ended Tuesday,
reported that Danilo Blandon, a former Nicaraguan government official,
was the conduit for thousands of kilos of cocaine that flowed to the
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 L.A.'s black neighborhoods as a way of raising money
for a Nicaraguan guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency. That army was 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 L.A.'s
South-Central district for 40 years, was blunt in her reaction to the
"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
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 Nashville, 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
"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 issued beforehand.
"Freeway Rick" Ross, the former crack cocaine king of L.A., was
Blandon's biggest customer during the 1980s and his first target when
Blandon, a Nicaraguan, became an undercover operative for the DEA.
Records show Blandon and the DEA set Ross up for a sting and that
Blandon was the star witness during Ross' cocaine conspiracy trial last
March. Ross and two other men were convicted and were scheduled to be
sentenced Friday. But sentencing was postponed after Ross' attorney,
Alan Fenster, filed a motion for a new trial based on the revelations
contained in the Mercury's series.
"These articles set forth the full extent of the involvement of the
United States Government in supplying defendant Ross with huge supplies
of cocaine for resale to African Americans throughout the United
States," Fenster's motion states. "As such, these articles provide
further support for defendant Ross' previously raised claim that the
United States Government created and nurtured his role as a major drug
dealer and ultimately created the circumstances for his arrest. As
argued at trial and now supported by these articles, Ross was
a victim of government corruption on a massive scale."
Assistant U.S. Attorney L.J. O'Neale would not talk to reporters and
did not directly address Fenster's claim in court.
In addition, Fenster told Judge Marilyn Huff at least two people
have recently told federal officials that Blandon has continued to deal
cocaine while on the DEA's payroll, something Blandon denied at the
trial. Huff agreed to postpone Ross' sentencing -- he faces a possible
term of life without parole -- until Sept. 13 to take testimony from
the two men.
One of those men, Sergio Castrillon, approached FBI agents in
February 1996, records show, and told them that on three occasions in
1995 he assisted a Nicaraguan named "Oscar" in moving cocaine loads
across the Mexican border into California. (Blandon's full name is
Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes.)
"Castrillon advised that Oscar claims to pay an
Immigrations/Customs official at the Calexico Port of Entry to
guarantee safe passage of Oscar's loads into the United States,"
the Feb. 21, 1996, FBI report states.
A federal official said that Blandon later turned in several Customs
agents who allegedly had been accepting payoffs, and court records say
he assisted in the indictment of a "corrupt U.S. government
O'Neale suggested in court Friday that Blandon may have been working
on a sting for the DEA at the time Blandon allegedly approached the two
men and tried to involve them in a drug deal.
"He has been very active in undercover investigations throughout
most of the Western Hemisphere," O'Neale said.
But Fenster noted that the first time the allegations arose, at
Ross' trial in March, O'Neale flatly dismissed Castrillon's statements
as lies. "He (O'Neale) never said anything about a sting then,"
Toward the end of the hearing, O'Neale -- waving a copy of Sunday's
Mercury News -- asked Judge Huff to investigate how a government
picture of Blandon had wound up on the Mercury's front page. Noting
that Blandon's picture had been attached to an Immigration document
that was under court seal, O'Neale -- glancing at the defense lawyers -- said,
"The government believes this court's order has been
Huff said she would investigate the leak if asked to do so in
writing by federal prosecutors.