3 investigations begin into paper's allegations CIA aided U.S. drug ring Agency reportedly blocked efforts to curb cocaine sold to finance contras in '80s

September 21, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department, the CIA and a key House committee have begun investigations into charges that the CIA blocked efforts to curb cocaine shipments to Los Angeles.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in a letter that the House Select Committee on Intelligence is reviewing charges raised by the San Jose Mercury News of a drug pipeline during the 1980s from Colombian drug cartels to black neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

The letter was released by Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who had requested the investigation.

CIA Director John M. Deutch, under pressure from Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, has ordered the agency's inspector general to ascertain whether the agency was involved in the alleged drug network.

And at the request of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the Justice Department's inspector general's office has begun its own questioning of the CIA's alleged involvement in the drug network.

An initial investigation by Deutch found no substance to the charges against the CIA. But Deutch told a Senate committee hearing Thursday that the allegations "go to the heart and integrity of the CIA enterprise" and will be addressed "in a forthright and complete fashion."

The CIA director also met with the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday and promised to report back in 60 days.

Last month, the Mercury News reported that during the 1980s, a San Francisco Bay area drug ring funneled cocaine into Los Angeles and then sent the profits to the CIA-backed contras, who were trying to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

One of the alleged recipients of the drugs from Colombia was Rick "Freeway Ricky" Ross, a known Los Angeles cocaine dealer who is awaiting sentencing on a federal drug conviction.

His sentencing has been delayed while the judge reviews his claims that he was snared into a CIA plot to finance the Contras.

In a letter to Waters earlier this month, Deutch said that the two Nicaraguan drug smugglers mentioned in the articles had never been employed by the CIA.

Pub Date: 9/21/96

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