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Rick Ross

"Freeway" Rick Ross is an American convicted drug trafficker best known for the "drug empire" that he presided over in Los Angeles, California, in the early 1980s.

Cocaine business

It was through a friend that Ross was introduced to a connection to purchase cheap Nicaraguan cocaine: two Nicaraguan exiles, Oscar Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses Cantarero. Ross began distributing cocaine around US$10,000 less per kilo than the average street price, his point of distribution being the Bloods and Crips street gangs. Eventually, Ross purchased his cocaine directly from Blandón and Meneses. By 1982, Ross had received his moniker of "Freeway Ricky," and is claimed to have been selling up to US$3 million worth of cocaine per day—and purchasing 455 kilos of cocaine a week. One of Ross' main dealers was his childhood friend Billy Moulton.

Drug empire

With thousands of employees, Ross claimed he operated drug sales not only in Los Angeles but in places across the country including St. Louis, New Orleans, Texas, Kansas City, Oklahoma, Indiana, Cincinnati, North Carolina, South Carolina, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Seattle. He has said that his most lucrative sales came from the Ohio area. He made similar claims in a 1996 PBS interview. According to the Oakland Tribune, "In the course of his rise, prosecutors estimate that Ross exported several tons of cocaine to New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and made more than $600 million in the process." Adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, that is more than a billion dollars.


Iran-Contra involvement

Ross's capture was facilitated by his career-long dealer Oscar Danilo Blandon, who "set up" Ross. Blandón had close ties with the Contras, and had met with Contra leader Enrique Bermúdez on several occasions. Blandón was the link between the CIA and Contras during the Iran-Contra affair. Gary Webb interviewed Ross several times before breaking the story in 1996. Ross claims that the reason he was unfairly tried initially was because of his involvement in the scandal. Blandón received a 24-month sentence for his drug trafficking charges, and following his release, was hired by the Drug Enforcement Administration where he was salaried at US$42,000. Blandón was not a U.S. citizen/national, and is the only known foreigner not to be deported following conviction on drug trafficking charges in U.S. history. The INS was ordered to grant Blandón a green card, despite the criminal convictions, to allow him to work for the DEA. The DEA has claimed they no longer employ Blandón, and his whereabouts are unknown.

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