The CIA, Contras, Gangs, and Crack

In August 1996, the San Jose Mercury News initiated an extended series of articles linking the CIA’s “contra” army to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles.

Based on a year-long investigation, reporter Gary Webb wrote that during the 1980s the CIA helped finance its covert war against Nicaragua’s leftist government through sales of cut-rate cocaine to South Central L.A. drug dealer, Ricky Ross. The series unleashed a storm of protest, spearheaded by black radio stations and the congressional Black Caucus, with demands for official inquiries. The Mercury News’ Web page, with supporting documents and updates, received hundreds of thousands of “hits” a day.


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