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Ricky Ross was once a drug kingpin who made $2 to $3 million a day and is now out of jail and rebuilding at-risk communities.
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As Ross moved to the top of the drug dealing chain, he began to work directly with suppliers, including Nicaraguan drug trafficker Oscar Danilo Blandón Reyes. Blandón, who was heavily involved in the Contra revolution, was able to provide Ross with the massive quantities of cocaine necessary to keep business booming and customers satisfied. In return,
Bladón used the money Ross provided him to fund his Contra rallies against the Nicaraguan Sandinista rulers. Ross became an important link between major Columbian drug cartels and lower level distributors in the United States. In a matter of only a few years, Ross was the head of Los Angeles' first cocaine ring.
By 1984, Ross began to expand his territory and his wares. While he was still primarily a drug dealer, Ross used his connections with Blandón and the Contras to add guns to his list of offerings. Blandón also supplied Ross with surveillance equipment that helped his suppliers track local patrol cars through their police scanners and block phone calls from tracking equipment. As the South Central Los Angeles market grew saturated, Ross increased his market to include cities such as Kansas City, Oklahoma, New Orleans, St. Louis and Seattle. He then expanded his reach to the East, creating crack and cocaine markets in Atlanta, Miami, New York and Detroit.
Ross' growing business made a staggering amount of money. To hide the extent of his earnings, Ross invested his fortune in high-priced clothing, boats, a fleet of cars, ski trips to Aspen, and seats to Lakers games. In addition, Ross bought an auto parts store and a hotel near the Harbor Freeway called the Freeway Motor Inn. The Inn, which served as a secure meeting place for dealers and couriers, eventually earned Ross the nickname "Freeway Rick."
This amassing of wealth and power caught the attention of authorities, who had been keeping an eye on Blandón's smuggling activities outside the U.S. They eventually traced Blandón's activities to his biggest customer: Freeway Ricky Ross. Within three years, police had created the Freeway Ricky Ross Taskforce, a special unit designed specifically to target Ross. In an effort to dismiss unneeded attention, Ross and his girlfriend relocated to Cincinnati to "lie low." The temptation of a new and untapped market proved to be irresistible, however, and Ross soon infiltrated Cincinnati's crack market.
With the Cincinnati dealers under his thumb, Ross was now sitting on nearly $5 million worth of real estate, and more money he could spend. Friends and loved ones were gradually becoming addicted to his product, and the police were now hot on his trail in Cincinnati, too. Ross was starting to have second thoughts about his business dealings. He began scaling back on his empire, turning his business over in pieces to smaller dealers and planning an early retirement.
For a time this tactic worked, and Ross successfully dodged the police. But Ross had gotten sloppy.
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