For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug and gun 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 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a [San Jose, California] Mercury News investigation has found.

This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia’s cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles… The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America… and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.’s gangs to buy automatic weapons. It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history: the union of a U.S.-backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi toting “gangstas” of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles.

The army’s financiers—who met with the CIA agents both before and during the time they were selling the drugs in L.A.—delivered cut-rate cocaine to the gangs through a young South-Central crack dealer Ricky Donnell Ross. Unaware of his suppliers’ military and political connections, “Freeway Rick”—a dope dealer of mythic proportions in the L.A. drug world—turned the cocaine powder into crack and wholesaled it to gangs across the country. The cash Ross paid for the cocaine, court records show, was then used to buy weapons and equipment for a guerrilla army named the Fuerza Democratic Nicaraguans (Nicaraguan Democratic Force) or FDN, the largest of several anti-communist commonly called the Contras.

While the FDN’s war is barely a memory today, black America is still dealing with its poisonous side effects. Urban neighborhoods are grappling with legions of homeless crack addicts. Thousands of young black men are serving long prison sentences for selling cocaine—a drug that was virtually unobtainable in the black neighborhoods before members of the CIA’s army started bringing it into South-Central in the 1980s at bargain-basement prices. And the L.A. gangs, which used their enormous cocaine profits to arm themselves and spread crack across the country, are still thriving, turning entire blocks of major cities into occasional war zones.

This epidemic of gang and drug violence spreading throughout the country I recall as if yesterday. The year was 1986. Manish, we were delinquent youth approaching puberty unmindful of the block-bleeding chaos that plagued the West Coast (WC). However, this began to change as it poured into the heartland and exercised its demoralizing influence.

My initial experience with the WC gang culture I must admit was introduced to me through the movie Colors. Walking out the theater with a local gang—the W.I.P. (Walk-bys In Progress)—we all seemed to be captivated by the intense gang violence and drug activity depicted in the movie’s portrayal of the LA gang culture. A seed had been planted as we joked around with each other, “Whatz up Cuz!,” “Whatz up Blood!” Though, we made no true claim at the time nor did we understand the twenty-plus years of conflict fueling South-Central’s gang wars. Nevertheless, the movie’s sinister energy had harnessed our delinquent souls’ inner-gorilla as had the actual movement for those on the WC who, in rejecting the ideology of Black Nationalism, were manipulated to direct their fierce spirit to the cause of gangbangin’.

Looking back, I strongly believe that movie made many people conscious of the nature of the WC movement. After it made its debut it seemed as if lightening had struck the South with the WC virus. Though, it wasn’t the hype of the silver screen that had cats who-bangin’. The theatrics were live and direct as the media in OKC broadcasted in 1988 “Oklahoma City was baby LA” as fortified trap-houses and gang violence resurrected on street corners like church houses and liquor stores. To the east Arkansas would later produce the critically acclaimed documentary Bangin’ In Little Rock that portrayed a full-blown epidemic of gang violence once isolated to South-Central now having migrated and paralyzed the Dirty Dirty.

By the late ‘90s titles like “Arrest May Slow Drug Flow Into City Temporarily” became redundant in newspapers statewide. This particular title was the actual headline of a May 20, 1996, Daily Oklahoman publication that read in part:

A drug pipeline linking Oklahoma City to the second-largest city in the nation is dumping deadly narcotics onto Oklahoma City streets…. Law enforcement officials took a major step last week to plug the pipeline that has fed the state capital for a decade….”

“The arrests remove a strong pocket of violent drug dealers and thieves in the south central Oklahoma area….”
“It should cut some of the violence in the areas where they operated. [But] there’s always somebody waiting in the wings to pick it up. It’s ongoing….”
The conspiracy involved buying multiple kilograms of cocaine power from Los Angeles gang sources, including the Main Street Mafia Crips, the [Eastside] Insane Crips and [a local gang] the Prince Hall Villain[] [Gangsta Crips], and selling it in the Oklahoma City area in the form of crack.

Cocaine dealers have looked to Oklahoma City since the late 1980s when crack-cocaine flooded the streets of Los Angeles, lowering the drug’s street value.
Oklahoma City, along with major midwestern cities, provided a new stomping ground for West Coast gangs. The number of known gang members in Oklahoma City is 45 times higher today than it was 10 years ago.

WC gang activity would eventually make its way to home base. Wewoka was just 45 minutes southeast of OKC and home to one of several large statewide attractions—the Wewoka Rodeo—that offered festivities to the Black community. The WC gang culture would eventually become just as much a part of the rodeo as the cowboy himself. The LA banger and his new found cronies found Crenshaw in the heartland as ‘64 Impalas began to bounce up-and-down the strip during and after rodeo parades. These events, as well as the local drug markets found on Cedar Street, the Eastside of OKC, North Tulsa, and a few other backwood and metropolitan Black communities throughout the state, would attract the WC gang and drug culture. In time, gang violence would bring to an end many of these events.
The Chicago based Folks and Peoples factions were present too, as well as a few East Coast cliques. Yet it was the WC gangs that did it moving. This goes without saying considering the circumstances created by Freeway Rick’s connect (the CIA’s FDN) which gave gangs like the Hoover Crips an advantage to take the show on the road and captivate impressionable souls across the nation to get active in drug and gang violence.

Media hype would further manipulate the situation by drawing comparisons between the LA factions and the notorious Italian Mafia. The mendacious nature of the American press goes without saying. It misled a whole school of kids to accompany the Crips and Bloods to emulate the Mafia deathstyle. It ignored the fact that the founders of these gangs had reflected little, if at all, on criminal organization for profit. Rather, they organized, for lack of better expression, in the most disastrous manner to date, which influenced the gravest political and social regression that the Black community has ever witnessed. The negligence of such commentary served to attract and mortgage infinite souls beyond the holdings of Standard Poor’s Fortune 500 companies.

Thereafter, street gangs became a threshold to fulfill empty souls seeking to identify with the Mafia deathstyle. However, violence would be the only facet of mob life they would effectively correspond. Consequently, gang violence would trademark racially motivated legislation (e.g., drive-by laws) that would come to beckon death sentences nationwide due to the innocent being paralyzed with fear to crossfire.

Picking up where I left off with the trafficking of gang and drug activity beyond South-Central, it appeared the gang factions that migrated South had family wherever they pulled up. Rather it was by keen insight or mere happenstance they came to learn that the work, which had marginal gains on the streets of California, would fetch three to ten times the profit in the heartland. Needless to say, local hustlas would in time get up on Game and begin to establish connections on the WC. In the mean time the WC gangs migrated by the herds: The Hoovas, Neighborhoods, the Gangstas, the Brims, 456, and many other red and blue factions from all over the state.

Thirsty for the scratch they came. However, some were fleeing the intense gang wars that had infested their ‘hoods with block-bleeding AK-47 choppa shells. Like a portable slaughter house their gangbangin’ mentalities traveled along suit assailing southern hospitality moreso than the KKK. In addition, many fled the anticipated consequences of their otherwise shifty behavior and criminal indictments.
Assisting this transition were economic factors. As noted, the down turn of the nation’s manufacturing sector was brought about by N.A.F.T.A. Millions of jobs were lost when doors opened wide to Third World quasi-slave labor. Overnight many Black men suddenly found themselves unemployed with mouths to feed. It was here that the F.D.N. pack mule would provide work for the displaced worker.

The impact this would have on the youth would be tremendous. We came to distance ourselves from those traditional pathways (e.g., careers, marriage, family life) of social life. The decline in meaningful job prospects weakened the stabilizing influences and traditional forms of informal social control that, subsequently, strengthened gang life as a dominant informal control and socialization force. We went from our everyday group of kids looking for a summer job, to young adults “papered-up” and “strapped-up” in loosely structured gangs. And as the stakes got higher, so too the violence.
Before the gang life acculturated the South majority of us simply carried about with a sense of jovialness that did not allow a grudge to be held simply because you were from a different ‘hood or town. Because many of our communities were two-stoplight towns everyone was familiar with each other and their families had histories that stretched for generations. This enabled us to function as a village. And where egos and testosterone would clash, a set of mixes (one, two, uppercut) would quickly squash the matter. Occasionally gunplay would reign out. But this was not the norm. That is until gangbangin’ came on the scene to exchange the knuckle-game we practice with little grievance for the high-powered assault weapon’s mayhem and murder.

Needless to say, the blue and red flag divide that spread throughout the South would make conflict visible. In addition, it would intensify tensions and further cripple the community. This was so because our conflicts became irreconcilable. The flustered emotions of a fistfight in time would heal and ironically bring cats closer. But the block-bleeding acts of gunplay influenced by the WC venom left the community torn and damaged beyond repair. The menace had transcended South-Central to influence the country boy to correspond with equal, if not greater, force to enact genocide.

Our conflict would become the most wayward having attached itself to the need to vent aggression moreso than to acquire drug turf. To compensate our ego a manifesto was provided from decades of WC conflict. Like any franchise, instruction manuals accompanied the WC gang migration: “GANGBANGIN’ 101, 102, and 103.” By the time this movement was in full swing and flags were being sailed on the South Coast, the accommodations and terms had in South-Central had set in stone the politics of blue and red light flight as to what set was or was not an ally. However, because our communities were too small for both bangin’ and slangin’, which was like mixing oil with water, accommodations were struck. In some spots we had cliques composed of Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords, etc. who made Dope-Boy Magic. In other spots the entire town was considered a Crip ‘hood or Blood ‘hood, etc. where the youngstas, for example, sought to rep the “set” instead of getting paper. For them the ‘hood was a ego play ground where they could ride the pony and compete for glory and stripes and tag with their war paint for vanity….

…[From a] sense of powerlessness caused by the absence of a revolutionary tempest would give way to the gang element. Tookie would write of the matter:

The Crips was a vehicle to provide us with illusionary empowerment, payback, camaraderie, protection, thuggery, and a host of other benefits. We wanted to be exempt from being disenfranchised, dyseducated, disempowered, and destitute…We were seventeen-year-olds with minds polluted by misconceptions, and we wanted to be emancipated from the struggle against the conditions seeking our extinction or emasculation. But regardless of hostile opposition or lack of social privilege, my vested interest, like everyone else’s, was simply to survive….

This can be said to have been the case in the Bay Area and elsewhere throughout the nation where Black Nationalism would eventually loose its zeal. However, it would be the Big Four, the Vice Lords, Black Disciples, etc., instead of the Crips and Bloods that would appeal to the ghetto youth.
Moreover, because Black Nationalism had such a strong presence in these regions, many of the gangs that would take shape, for example the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), better understood and valued economics and structure. Notably, this organization was manipulated by agents of COINTELPRO to pump tons of heroin into the veins of the Black Nationalist Movement. It’s been said that the leadership of this prison gang was sold on the notion of keeping the Italian Mafia from controlling and profiting from the drug markets in the communities they were to return to; and that the profits they were to see from the sale of drugs would be a means to an end—THE END!

Consequently, heroin and other drugs would in time become an “opportunity,” to say for lack of better term, to better position them economically. So they structured-up—MOBBED UP to organize and control the drug markets….

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