Freeway Ricky Ross, A Los Angeles Drug King Pin

Freeway Rick Ross

Freeway Rick Ross

Alex Alonso for Street Gangs
November 1, 2006

The is a story about an American drug dealer, not a rapper who raps about drug dealing but a real person who sold real drugs to real people. A person who was instrumental in the production and distribution of one of the largest rock cocaine enterprises ever in effect in the US. A person who was sentenced to life in prison. Ricky Donell Ross was born in Troup, Texas and moved to Los Angeles when he was young. Ross dropped out of Dorsey High School in his senior year where he excelled in tennis. Because he couldn’t read or write his coach informed him that would not be able to receive a tennis scholarship for college.

At the end of tennis season, Ross dropped out of Dorsey and enrolled at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, a vocational community college near USC. There he learned to bind books but he was interested in the L.A. Trade-Tech (LATT) tennis team, and Ross was still hoping his ski*ls with the racquet would propel his career. He was considered the 3rd best player on the team according to the tennis coach and he was steadily improving but his other talent was stealing cars for which he was busted for in 1979.

Ross’ friend from San Jose State University told him about cocaine, a drug that was becoming more popular with the upscale party crowd but not popular among inner city residents. Through a cocaine-using auto upholstery teacher Ross knew at LATT, he met a Nicaraguan named Henry Corrales, who began selling Ross and his best friend, Ollie ”Big Loc” Newell, small amounts of this new drug. Because Ross and Newell where plugged into the LA gang scene they were able to quickly distribute the product in South Los Angeles. Eventually Corrales introduced Ross to Danilo Blandon a major supplier from Nicaragua. From that relationship, Ross went from a small time pusher to one of American most profitable street dealers in American history.

Blandon eventually would provide Ross with hundreds of kilos of cocaine on consignment and during his height, it was not uncommon to move $2 million or $3 million worth of crack in one day. Ross undercut other dealers and built a flourishing drug empire that spread all over the western part of the United States across to the Midwest.

Steve Polak former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics detective, who was part of the Freeway Rick Task Force, which was set up in 1987 to put Ross out of business stated, ” his poison, there’s no telling how many tens of thousands of people he touched. He’s responsible for a major cancer that still hasn’t stopped spreading.” Ross and Blandon avoided arrest for years. But in the late 1990s, the operation lost its contra connection. Both dealers were soon arrested on drug charges. Freeway Rick started serving a ten-year sentence, while the Justice Department intervened to free the Nicaraguan contra-connected Blandon and sent him home as a well paid Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informant.

Other credible sources have made similar allegations about contra involvement in cocaine trafficking into the United States such as the December 1985 blankociated Press story that exposed the contra alliance with cocaine smugglers. “Nicaraguan rebels operating in northern Costa Rica have engaged in cocaine trafficking,” wrote AP reporters Robert Parry and Brian Barger, “in part to help finance their war against Nicaragua’s leftist government, according to U.S. investigators and American volunteers who work with the rebels.” As evidence, the reporters cited a CIA intelligence report noting the contras in Nicaragua had bought aircraft with drug profits.”

After lengthy investigations, a U.S. Senate subcommittee chaired by John Kerry, the Democratic Senator from Mblankachusetts, issued a report in 1988 concluding that “individuals blankociated with the contra movement” were traffickers; cocaine smugglers had participated in “contra supply operations; and the U.S. State Department had made “payments to drug traffickers . . . for humanitarian blankistance to the contras. in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted . . . on drug charges.”

In an interview in 1994, Ross said that he was making as much as $1 to $2 million by selling as many as half a million crack rocks on any given day. With thousands of employees, Ross operated drug sales not only in Los Angeles but in St. Louis, New Orleans, Texas, Kansas City, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Seattle. Many speculate that Ross was the link between the CIA and Nicaraguan rebels trying to over throw the Nicaraguan government during the Iran-Contra affair. The theory is that Ross was buying cocaine from Nicaraguan drug traffickers who were in turn funneling money back to the CIA supported rebels in Nicaragua. Gary Webb interviewed Ross several times before breaking the story in 1996 to the San Jose Mercury News. Webb was eventually criticized for the allegations he made in the story, but many had been aware of a such plot before the story, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, who vowed to get to the bottom of this scandal.

Ricky Ross was convicted in 1996 of conspiring to buy more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from a police informant. He was initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole with his old friend and former DEA employee Danilo Blandon testifying against him. A federal appeals court threw this decision out and upon the trial judge’s reconsideration he was sentenced 20 years. Ross has been in state prison for 10 years now and he may be released in just two more.

Ross will be featured in new BET program, American Gangster on December 5, 2006 hosted by Ving Rhames.

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