Freeway Ricky Ross speaks: an interview wit’ the former drug kingpin

by Minister of Information JR

Freeway-Ricky-Ross, Freeway Ricky Ross speaks: an interview wit’ the former drug kingpin, News & Views Freeway Ricky Ross was one of the biggest publicly known fundraisers for the U.S. government’s proxy wars against the people of Latin America, specifically in the countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador. He didn’t do it selling candy like school children do; he did it selling thousands of kilos of crack cocaine in the Los Angeles area. After serving over 20 years behind enemy lines, he met with me in Chicago at Mosque Maryam, where he was the featured speaker two weeks ago.

Certain segments of the Black community have often talked about how drugs were flooded into ghettos as part of the government’s Counter Intelligence Program in the ‘70s and ‘80s to stop the Black Power movement. It was done through individuals like Nikki Barnes and Alpo. This is Freeway Ricky Ross’ story about how he worked for the CIA in Los Angeles …

M.O.I. JR: How are you doing?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I’m doing super, man, just getting it in.

M.O.I. JR: I understand that you were just released from prison. How long did you do and what were you charged with?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Drug trafficking, and I been out about nine weeks now.

M.O.I. JR: How long did you do?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Twenty years and six months.

M.O.I. JR: Where were you locked up at?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Ah, man, all over the country: Lompoc, California; Victorville, California; San Diego; Phoenix, Arizona; Texas; Texarkana. I got around.

M.O.I. JR: To say that you were a drug dealer is kind of an understatement. Can you tell the people what kind of drugs you moved and what kind of money you made off of the drug trade?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Man, I moved hundreds of “keys” on a daily basis. I made in my last two years at least a million dollars every day. Some days 2 and 3 million dollars.

M.O.I. JR: So when you moved hundreds of “keys,” would you say you were fueling all of Los Angeles, or most of Los Angeles, or the West Coast?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I don’t know. You can’t really say that. You know drugs travel a long ways. So to say what it was fueling or how far, I never really took the time to calculate that. But I know that drugs that I sold went all across the country at one time or another.

M.O.I. JR: How many people were employed in your particular operation?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I had my own personal little crew of probably 40 guys at a time. Sometimes it could go up or sometimes it goes down; it’s according to who wants to work. Some people when they get a little money in their pockets, they don’t want to work. But you know I had a crew of about 45-40 people pretty consistently.

M.O.I. JR: How did you get the name Freeway Ricky Ross?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I grew up by the side of the freeway, and you know there were quite a few Ricks around, so it started off as “Rick stay by the freeway.” And once I got in the drug business, it took up a name of its own.

M.O.I. JR: How did you get a connection where you were getting your cocaine straight from Colombia?

Freeway Ricky Ross: It wasn’t really come from Colombia. Mine was coming from Nicaragua – from a guy that was a CIA operative …

M.O.I. JR: Would that be Danilo Blandon?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Absolutely correct. He’s the one who had the Columbian connect and the connect to get it in the country. But I didn’t know nothing about that type of stuff. You know, I was just glad to get my drugs at a great price and was enjoying the success that I thought I was having.

M.O.I. JR: What is a great price, so we can understand how the CIA sells drugs in the Black community?

Freeway Ricky Ross: When I started off buying “keys,” I was paying like $7,500 for a key. And the last time I bought a key, it was $10,000 a key.

M.O.I. JR: Wow. With you being from the Los Angeles area, but you don’t seem to be street tribe or gang affiliated, how did he approach you and how were you able to move that amount of, what we call in the streets, “weight” without being affected by street tribes?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Well, we were introduced by mutual friends. As a matter of fact, we paid to meet each other. It cost me, I think, $60,000-$65,000 to meet him. And he paid the same thing to meet me. So it wasn’t just a meeting, it was a business meeting with a goal in mind for both of us.

As far as the gangs, I wanted to be a gang member when I was around 12 years old, but I started playing tennis and once I started playing tennis I was able to see the benefits and the non-benefits of gang-banging. As so I was definitely detoured from the gangs because of that. You know that I have always been somebody that wanted something out of life, and I couldn’t just see fighting and killing, just for the sake of it.

M.O.I. JR: Why do you think that the government picked you, in particular on the West Coast out of all the different people? I’m sure you are not the only one, but you are one of the most public ones that they did pick. Why did they pick you to move such “weight”?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I don’t know how that all went down, you know what I’m saying? It was just all coincidence, I guess, but I was determined to be a major drug dealer when I got started so, I guess, that played a part in it. And you know, how do football teams pick running backs and wide receivers? You know they watch the numbers. They look for who has the work ethic, and who is dedicated.

M.O.I. JR: Has government officials besides Danilo Blandon been in touch with you during your career as a drug dealer?

Freeway Ricky Ross: When I was a drug dealer, I didn’t know that he was with the government. After I was arrested, as you probably know, I spoke to many government officials from CIA to Congress to the attorney general – it was enormous – but no, not while I was a drug dealer.

M.O.I. JR: When did you find out that he was the CIA?

Freeway Ricky Ross: When I went to trial. He testified against me.

M.O.I. JR: Can you speak about your most recent case, because as I understand, you have given up the game, and many believe you were going in one more time and you got caught up, and that was the government retribution …

Freeway Ricky Ross: I was entrapped. You know, I feel that I was entrapped in this case, but it is what it is. I wasn’t selling drugs. I was trying to build a youth center. And they put him on me, and he kept asking me over and over again to introduce him to somebody that would buy drugs. Once I made the introduction, I was arrested.

M.O.I. JR: So do you feel like this was retribution for you getting out of the game?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I don’t know. You know, it could be, but I just don’t know. I don’t give it much thought any more. You know, I really moved on with my life and I got so many other things going on right now that it is hard for me to even look back on the past. That’s no longer a part of my life. Right now, I’m living towards the future.

M.O.I. JR: I understand that you were recently released from federal prison, and I just recently met you in Chicago. How is it that you just did 20 years, and yet you are not on federal parole and you can move around like you are?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I am on federal parole but, you know, I got myself in a position so that I could do anything that I want to do. You know, basically, I’m the man. You know I feel that I am running things right now. It’s just not drugs no more, but I’m still the guy that you need to talk to, and people will be recognizing it soon.

M.O.I. JR: What are some of your future ambitions?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Well, right now I’m putting my movie together. I’m doing my movie myself.

M.O.I. JR: What is the name of it?

Freeway Ricky Ross: I haven’t really named it. I’m thinking about naming it something like “Ghetto Economics” or “Ghetto Physics.” You know, I’m still tinkering with it, but I just signed Nick Cassavetes, one of the greatest writers in Hollywood. He’s writing a script with me.

I had a meeting yesterday with Leonardo Di Caprio about him playing in the movie, as Gary Webb, the reporter. I have money put in escrow right now to shoot the movie, and I’m doing everything myself.

You know, they let me do a movie totally independently. I’m not doing it with a studio. I’m calling all of the shots. You know, I’ll be paying everybody including Leonardo if he decides to work with me. You know, I’m running things right now.

M.O.I. JR: I understand that you speak around the country also …

Freeway Ricky Ross: Yeah. I been on tour. I went on a four-day tour to Chicago. I been to Indianapolis; I been to St. Louis. I’m getting ready to go to Houston. While I’m down there I will be kicking it with my man Scarface.

You know I’m just everywhere, man. I got a record label that I’m putting together. I’m about to start my own book publishing company. Right now, I’m sitting with a video game developer; we’re working on my video game.

You know, just getting it in, man. It’s on and poppin. I got a reality show coming out. I just got a call a minute ago. HBO wants to buy a mini-series of my life, something like “The Wire.” So, you know, I’m just getting it in, man.

You know I got my social network, I’ll be going up to Stanford on Friday to have the students up there to help me build it, to where we can compete with myspace and facebook. I’m just gettin’ it in, man. I’m taking all of the street knowledge that I’ve learned and putting it towards business.

M.O.I. JR: Now let’s talk a little bit about Gary Webb. I learned about your story from his book, “Dark Alliances.” and also his newspaper articles by the same name that came out in the San Jose Mercury News. I take it that you’ve read the book.

Freeway Ricky Ross: I’ve read both.

M.O.I. JR: How accurate would you say they are, based on your own recollection and research?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Man, Gary Webb was good. He was a Pulitizer winning writer, meaning that he is one of the best writers, best investigative writers out there. I mean you cannot take anything from Gary Webb, even though they all tried to beat him up.

But they had no choice. You know, it was either beat him up or go down. So they thought it was better to beat him up, to gang up on him. And that’s what they did. I hated to see that it went down like that, and nobody stood behind him and held his back up.

M.O.I. JR: What was happening to you, when all of this was happening to Gary Webb? What was happening around you?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Well, I was in prison. I had a life sentence at the time.

M.O.I. JR: How many years had you served up to that point when all of this had been acknowledged?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Two years, maybe three years.

M.O.I. JR: And were there a whole lot of people swarming around you and wanting to get in touch with you as a result of these articles and this book coming out?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Without a question – it was a media frenzy. I made the talk show circuit: Nightline, Dateline, you name it, I did all of the TV shows. Montell Williams came down, Maxine Waters. I got a call from Jesse Jackson. It was crazy.

M.O.I. JR: What do you think about the death of Gary Webb? Some call it a suicide and others call it an assassination, where he had two shots to the head. Do you think that that was retribution for his work, particularly bringing out and shedding light on this connection between you, the United States government, El Salvador and Nicaragua?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Well, you know that’s crazy, because for someone to shoot themselves twice in the head – and I believe it was with a shotgun – is crazy. But you know crazier things have happened. And we all have to sit down and weigh the evidence for ourself, because I wasn’t there and I don’t know what happened.

You know that I just hope that he wasn’t killed, that there wasn’t any foul play and that it went down like they say it did. But you know, when you stepping in there and you accusing people as powerful as the people that he accused, anything can happen.

M.O.I. JR: Do you fear for your life now that you have been on the speaking tour circuit, as well as you’re involved in all of these projects that will be speaking about different elements of your life, where people can possibly get in trouble?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Well, I’m definitely cautious. And I’m also cautious about what I say so I’m definitely playing it safe. Let’s say that.

M.O.I. JR: Last but not least, is there any way that people can keep up with you? I know you put the website out there. Can you tell it to us again? Or is there any other way that people can get in touch with you?

Freeway Ricky Ross: The best way is You can email me on there. You can leave messages for me. If you book me for something or you need to speak to me, or if you want to send me your cd or something like that there, or if you want to be on some of the soundtracks or whatever it is, you can contact me right there.

We finna start a picture of the week, where we’re going to be paying for whoever comes up with the best picture for the week. So is the best way to get me. Also we’ll be letting people play in my movie that’s on the site, that is a member. You know, holla at me. I definitely want to hear from you, and hear what you got to say, and if you got any ideas for me.

M.O.I. JR: Are you still living off of old money or did you basically get out with nothing and you gotta rebuild yourself?

Freeway Ricky Ross: Man, I’m broke right now, but you know what? I’m in good spirits. I feel confident in myself and in my skills. And I don’t mind struggling. You know the struggle is better than the actual victory. So you know, right now, I’m struggling, I’m gettin’ it in and now just having a ball.

I met Minister Farrakhan Friday. He let me have dinner at his house. And when you get things like that there, man, it’s just wonderful. Today I spoke at Locke High School to about 4-500 kids …

Freeway Ricky Ross: It’s in South Central Los Angeles. And, you know, when you get those type of rewards, it’s just overwhelming, man. Right now, I’m living a dream.

M.O.I. JR: Well, man, thanks for the interview. I’m going to be hitting you up for updates.

Freeway Ricky Ross: You got that. But definitely y’all join up for the site. Hit me up, and sign me up as a friend, man. We gonna be doing stuff on Freeway Enterprise that ain’t nobody else out there doing. It’s going to be a place where you can make some money, get seen, and get your message out. Holla at me. Peace.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at and visit