http://www.justice.g...9712/ch01p1.htmChapter I: IntroductionA. The San Jose Mercury News Articles
On August 18, 1996, the San Jose Mercury News
published the first installment of a three-part series of articles concerning crack cocaine, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Nicaraguan Contra army. The introduction to the first installment of the series read:
For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.
This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America . . . and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy automatic weapons.
The three-day series of articles, entitled "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion," told the story of a Los Angeles drug operation run by Ricky Donnell Ross, described sympathetically as "a disillusioned 19-year-old . . . who, at the dawn of the 1980s, found himself adrift on the streets of South-Central Los Angeles." The Dark Alliance series recounted how Ross began peddling small quantities of cocaine in the early 1980s and rapidly grew into one of the largest cocaine dealers in southern California until he was convicted of federal drug trafficking charges in March 1996. The series claimed that Ross' rise in the drug world was made possible by Oscar Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses, two individuals with ties to the Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN), one group comprising the Nicaraguan Contras. Blandon and Meneses reportedly sold tons of cocaine to Ross, who in turn converted it to crack and sold it in the black communities of South Central Los Angeles. Blandon and Meneses were said to have used their drug trafficking profits to help fund the Contra army's war effort.
Stories had previously been written about the Contras' alleged ties to drug trafficking. For example, on December 20, 1985, an Associated Press
article claimed that three Contra groups "engaged in cocaine trafficking, in part to help finance their war against Nicaragua." Rumors about illicit activities on the part of the Contras had also been probed in Senate hearings in the late 1980s. However, the Mercury News
series contained -- or at least many readers interpreted it to contain -- a new sensational claim: that the CIA and other agencies of the United States government were responsible for the crack epidemic that ravaged black communities across the country. The newspaper articles suggested that the United States government had protected Blandon and Meneses from prosecution and either knowingly permitted them to peddle massive quantities of cocaine to the black residents of South Central Los Angeles or turned a blind eye to such activity.