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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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In 1988, a grand jury in Texas issued a fugitive warrant for Ross after it was revealed that he had discussed a cocaine drop with Texas dealers on a monitored line. Later that same year, a New Mexico canine unit intercepted one of Ross' crack shipments in transit at a Greyhound bus station. The dealer attached to the shipment, Alphonso Jeffries, was taken into custody and grilled for information. He began talking about shipments Ross had made between New York and California. Armed with evidence,
including a paper trail with Ross' fingerprints, the federal goverment issued Ross and 13 others with indictments for cocaine conspiracy in Cincinnati.
Now pursued on a state and federal level, Ross returned to Los Angeles and tried to keep a low profile. In November of 1989, however, a two-man SWAT team captured Ross. The kingpin's reign was officially over.
Ross' guilty plea earned him jail time and, in 1990, he began serving a 10-year sentence. Four years later, police offered Ross the opportunity to shorten his stay by testifying in a federal case. He was released shortly after on parole, and was allowed to keep around $2 million worth of remaining property and money.
After his release, Ross decided to stay clean. He'd purchased a rundown theater in South Central Los Angeles in 1989, shortly before his arrest, with the intentions of rehabbing it and turning it into an outreach center. Suddenly on television as the drug-dealer-turned-philanthropist, hundreds of supporters began to invest in his idea, including politicians, large corporations, religious institutions and even celebrities such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Magic Johnson and Ice Cube. Ross also began discussing the rights to a book contract and a lucrative film deal about his story. According to Ross, he was finally on a new path.
But the CIA and narcotics agents remined skeptical of Ross' sudden transformation to philanthropist do-gooder. They had cornered Blandón, who had been caught on tape bragging about his dealings in the drug trade. In exchange for a shortened sentence, a green card, and a $40,000 salary, agents said Blandón would have to become an informant for the DEA. His first job: to lead Freeway Ricky Ross into one last drug deal.
As soon as Ross appeared on television, Blandón saw his opportunity. He called Ross, saying he admired Ross' new venture, and invited him over for dinner. Once at the Blandón home, Blandón's wife told Ross that several of Ross' former dealers shorted Blandón out of thousands of dollars. They refused to pay it back, she said, and now the Colombians were pushing him for the money, which he didn't have. Ross denied the family help, saying he wanted to stay away from the drug industry.
Ross returned to prison for a set of pending drug charges in Texas, in which he discussed a drug deal over the phone. He pled guilty to the charge, for which he served a year in Texas prison. After his release in 1993, he returned to his theater project in Los Angeles.
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Across the globe, people commit crimes of murder, theft, drug dealing and more, often seeking refuge from the law in other countries. Pablo Escobar was the Columbian drug lord whose cartel set off much of the violence that still plagues the region. Nick Leeson's fraudulent trading caused the collapse of a British bank. These criminals, and many more, have manipulated their way across borders, earning themselves the label of international criminals.
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