Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 3, 1996
issue of Workers World newspaper

CIA pushes drugs

Government created crack epidemic to fund contras

Anger rises in Black community

By John Parker

Despite joint efforts of the government and media to keep it quiet, people around the country are finally hearing the story-documented with names, dates and places-of how the CIA pumped drugs into the Black community of Los Angeles.

As outrage mounts, officials are scrambling to keep the lid from blowing on the decade-long coverup of this government program of genocide-for-profit, which was carried out to fund counter-revolutionary terror in Central America.

The evidence shows that for nearly 10 years a Central Intelligence Agency operation sold crack cocaine by the ton along with sophisticated assault weapons to two Los Angeles youth gangs, the Crips and the Bloods.

The CIA then funneled millions of dollars in drug profits to U.S.-trained terrorists in an effort to oust the Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the 1980s. The Sandinistas had overthrown the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979 in a mass-based revolution.

Under President Ronald Reagan the contras were responsible for killing thousand of civilians, including children. This new admission, however, sheds light on how the war against Nicaragua also took innocent lives here in the United States, through poisoning the African American community by the proliferation of drugs and high-powered, sophisticated weaponry.

Corporate media sat on it

Activists and writers in the Black community and progressive groups have long tried to expose the CIA-drug connection. But the events became widely known from a series of articles by the San Jose, Calif., Mercury News in August.

While the authorities are still trying to keep things quiet, anger is bubbling over. In mid-September, when the Congressional Black Caucus held its Legislative Conference in the Washington convention center, over 2,000 people showed up, filling the hall to overflowing.

Responding to all the demonstrations of outrage from the Black community, Rep. Maxine Waters of South Central Los Angeles called for an investigation into the government's involvement in the crack epidemic.

"The Black community has been used by one of these elements inside the CIA for the unconscionable purpose of making money for war off the blood of our children," said civil-rights activist Dick Gregory before he was arrested outside CIA headquarters in McLean, Va., for giving a security guard the San Jose newspaper articles.

Also in mid-September, one of the key CIA drug operatives--employed to this day as an informer of the Drug Enforcement Administration-admitted under oath that he began selling cocaine in Los Angeles in 1982 to raise money for the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. The NDF was the biggest component of the anti-Sandinista thugs who came to be known as contras.

The two Nicaraguan cocaine dealers involved, Oscar Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses, were leaders of a CIA-created army whose mission was to terrorize the Nicaraguan people into accepting a government concerned more with the interests of the U.S. ruling class than the Nicaraguan people.

Naming names and kilos

"These people have been working with me 10 years," Blandon said. "I've sold them about 2,000 or 4,000 [kilos]. I don't know. I don't remember how many," said Blandon in federal court, referring to his distributors in the African American community.

Testifying against his main distributor, Rick Ross, Blandon said his biggest customer was a crack dealer in South Central Los Angeles who turned Blandon's cocaine into crack and distributed it to the Crips and Bloods. In 1995 he told the DEA he was providing 100 kilos of cocaine a week to the gangs.

According to Ross, crack was not the only death-dealing substance in the Blandon/CIA bargain store. "We had our own little arsenal. ... Once he tried to sell my partner a grenade launcher. I said, `Man, what ... do we need with a grenade launcher?'" Ross told the Mercury News.

Vaughn Chatman, a representative of the Ministerial Alliance in San Jose who early on urged Jesse Jackson to get involved in this case, said that pushing crack cocaine into African American neighborhoods during the 1980s was "genocide at the same period of time they were trying to get rid of all the social programs, the treatment programs.

"You put in the poison, you eliminate the antidote, and what's left? How many George Washington Carvers have been lost because of this?" Chatman asked.

Reactions in Harlem

In New York, Workers World asked the predominantly African American community in Harlem for their reaction to the CIA-drugs-contras revelations.

"I knew some geniuses who died from overdoses of drugs," 66-year-old Frank Grimes told WW. "Some of these young guys had everything going for them, everything but that habit."

Grimes said the CIA connection proves that blaming the Black community for the drug problem "is a lot of bull. They put drugs here for profit."

Grimes was reminded of how drugs were used to destroy the great jazz singer Billie Holiday. "They have been setting up our communities like that ever since."

Many Harlem residents on Malcolm X Boulevard said they were outraged by the recent findings.

"Crack is a big thing in Harlem, but who's driving all those boats and planes? These kids out here on the corner? No, it's not the Black man bringing the drugs into our community," said Patricia Read.

"And we aren't buying most of the drugs either," she continued. "You go to 181st Street by the bus terminal and you'll see all whites waiting for drugs.

"We have to look and see that all the politicians want us to sleep with drugs so they can control us and keep us down. That's why they try to take away our chance at getting an education," Read said.

CIA investigates itself

Now CIA Director John Deutch has ordered the agency's inspector general to investigate the drug connection. Once again, the CIA investigating itself.

Agents from the DEA, U.S. Customs, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement have already complained of CIA interference into investigations of the two drug dealers in the case, Blandon and Meneses.

Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein first aired the story of the CIA involvement on Pacifica radio on their "Undercurrents" series in 1986. The national series interviewed pilots carrying drugs, contras, and drug-enforcement officials.

The facts they presented were recorded in many newspapers and magazines.

Knight says he is happy to see the story come alive again--but that he feels some "deja vu" about the official denials, like Attorney General Janet Reno's. "The real battle," Knight said, "beyond reparations and reconstruction to the victimized communities, is whether or not there will be sufficient public pressure to force out the truth."

Knight told WW it is interesting that Lt. Col. Oliver North, implicated in the illegal weapons deals with the contras, used the word "garbage" about the allegations of CIA drug pushing. "In Spanish the word for garbage is also the term for crack cocaine."

Asked what he expected from Deutch's CIA investigation, Knight responded, "The EPA had better be on the alert for air pollution increases since a lot of documents are going to begin shredding and burning."

Although Blandon admitted to crimes that sent others away for life, the Justice Department recently turned him loose on unsupervised probation after only 28 months behind bars- and the government has paid him over $166,000 thus far, according to court records.

Blandon's boss, Norwin Cantarero, never spent a day in a U.S. prison even though the government has been aware of his cocaine dealings since 1974.

However, Rick Ross, like so many African American alleged street dealers, could face life in prison.

(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: [email protected] For subscription info send message to: [email protected] Web: http://www.workers.org)

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