“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.” So begins the controversial three part series, published last August, by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News.
The story makes the allegation that beyond selling drugs in America in the 1980’s, the U.S.-backed Contra rebels, fighting a Cuban-backed Nicaraguan regime, were largely responsible for introducing crack-cocaine into the U.S. This issue has raised interest to the point that a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has begun hearings on it.
The story has been picked up by other news organizations, notably The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. These two papers question some of Mr. Webb’s sources and his findings, especially regarding the introduction of crack into America, the targetting by Contra dealers of African-American communities and the involvement of the CIA.
In his defense, Mr. Webb told The Washington Post that “this (series) doesn’t prove the CIA targeted black communities. It doesn’t say this was ordered by the CIA… Essentially our trail stopped at the door of the CIA.”
A 1989 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report that looked into this issue also stopped just short of implicating the CIA. It stated, “There are some serious questions as to whether or not U.S. officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war effort against Nicaragua.”
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of that sub-Committee, had this to say about the recent allegations raised by Mr. Webb and others, “There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, or on the payroll of the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the Contras, but it is also important to note that we never found any evidence to suggest that these traffickers ever targeted any one geographic area or population group.”