the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring
sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los
Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to an arm of the
contra guerrillas of Nicaragua run by the Central Intelligence
Agency, the San Jose Mercury News has found.
August 22nd, 1996 the San Jose Mercury News shocked the country
with a series ofarticlesentitled‘The Dark
Alliance’detailing the CIA’s
connection to the crack epidemic that terrorized the nation in the
1980’s and destroyed countless lives in its wake.
the article’s publication, the story’s author, award winning
journalist Gary Webb, was initially hailed as a hero, before a
campaignattacked his credibility and
destroyed his career.
of “An American Hero”
Webb was born on August 31st, 1955 in Corona, California. He began
his career in investigative journalism in 1978 as a localreporterfor
the Kentucky post.
1980, Gary won his first professional award for a 17 partseriescalled
‘The Coal Connection’ which investigated the murder of an
international coal company president with ties to organized crime.
followed ‘The Coal Connection’ with a scathing 1985 report
entitled ‘Doctoring the Truth’. The report led to an Ohio houseinvestigationand
subsequent changes to the state’s medical practice act.
began working as an investigative reporter for the San Jose
Mercury News in 1988. Within a year his reporting contributed to
the paper winning aPulitzer
prizefor their coverage of the 1989 Bay
Area Earthquake and its aftermath.
& The Contras: The Story of a Lifetime
wasn’t until 1995 that Gary began work on what would become the
biggest story of his career when he received a tip about a cocaine
trafficker named Danilo Blandòn, and his relationship with LAdrug
dealer‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross.
the course of a year he interviewed dozens of witnesses, high
level Government officials and drug cartel leaders. After
meticulously piecing together his shockingdiscovery,
Webb and the San Jose Mercury Timespublished‘The
the importance of his report cannot be understated, ‘The Dark
the first timereporters had established the connection
between the CIA and cocaine trafficking.
1985, journalists Robert Parry and Brian Barger from the
various groups of the CIA-backed Contras “engaged in cocaine
trafficking, in part to help finance their war against Nicaragua.”
Parry would later call Webb “an American hero” for his in-depth
investigation and reporting on the topic.
a time when the internet was in its infancy, Webb’s report wasreleased online,
with links included to all of his sources. Demonstrating the power
of free and open access to information, Webb’s story quickly went
‘viral’ before the term ‘viral’ existed. The article garnered
hundreds of thousands of clicks every single day prompting
responses from the mainstreammedia,
activists, and theCIAitself.
the agency seemingly failed to respond to Webb’s story, but in
it wasn’t long before anarmy
of mainstream media outletsbegan to
defend the CIA and attempt to discredit Webb.
2014, the CIA released documents detailing how they used a
complicit media and a targeted strategy to denounce Webb’s 20,000
word report. Nicholas Dujmovic, the author of a CIA report
entitled, Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug
CIA watched these developments closely, collaborating where it
could with outlets who wanted to challenge Webb’s reporting.
Media inquiries had started almost immediately following the
publication of ‘Dark Alliance,’
You Can Kill
the Messenger, but Not the Message
to the backlash from Webb’s article, the Mercury news published aneditorialcalling
his report “flawed” and reassigned him, which eventually prompted
Gary to resign.
his resignation, Gary continued investigating the scandal he
exposed and published hisbookDark Alliance: The CIA, the
Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosionin
1998. He also continued to contribute to numerous reports anddocumentaries.
the story that became the most important of his career, helped
lead to Webb’s downfall. Garydivorcedfrom
his wife in 2000, though the two remained close during his final
divorcing his wife, being unable to obtain work from newspapers
and facing increasing debts, Gary was forced to sell his home.
December 10th, 2004 Gary Webb was found dead oftwo(allegedly
self inflicted) gun shots to the head. As The Independentreported,
in an interview with Gary’s ex wife Susan Webb:
removal men arrived, on the morning of 10 December 2004, they
found a sign on his front door, which read: ”Please do not
enter. Call 911 for assistance. Thank you.” Webb’s corpse was
found in the bedroom, with two gunshot wounds to the head.”
we may never know what happened to Gary Webb on the day of his
death, We must never forget the truth about what he exposed and
the extraordinary measures the government took to silence him.