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July 23rd, 2018

Max’s Views: Freeway: Crack in the System **1/2

There is an Urban Legend that claims that the crack epidemic of the 1980s was intentionally created by our government.

According to the conspiracy theory: the CIA invented crack, illegally smuggled it into inner cities, and successfully destroyed black communities.

At first glance, the theory seems paranoid and preposterous.

When San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb published a 1996 exposé blaming the government for the crack epidemic, the CIA laughed at him and denied everything. Webb was fired for his controversial accusations and ultimately committed suicide.

 The documentary “Freeway: Crack in the System” attempts to redeem Gary Webb by proving that the CIA/crack connection is real. The film has an amazing source to rely on: Freeway Rick Ross.

In 1980, Rick Ross was just another poor teenager in South Central Los Angeles dreaming of becoming rich. When he sold his first baggie of cocaine, Rick Ross knew he had found his calling.

This was just about the time people began cooking cocaine into crack. This process made getting high more affordable for the addict on a budget.

Rick Ross was the first dealer to begin cooking crack rocks himself so that the product he was selling was more portable and efficient for his customers. Soon he was the king of crack in Los Angeles and a multi-millionaire.

Presumably, Ross’s crew of drug dealers killed people, tore families apart, and ruined lives. But you don’t hear much about that in this stubbornly pro-Rick Ross movie.

Freeway Rick Ross even caught the attention of international drug trafficker Danilo Blandon. With his Latin American connections, Blandon had the ability to smuggle tons of cocaine into California. But Blandon decided that he couldn’t sell it nearly as well as young Mr. Ross. Blandon gave Ross a steady supply of cheap coke and a powerful cache of weapons.

How was Danilo Blandon able to do all this? And where is Nicaragua? Freeway Rick Ross admits that he never asked those questions.

But “Freeway” documentarian Marc Levin did.

Danilo Blandon was the son of one of Nicaragua’s most prominent families. After the Sandinista revolution, Blandon fled to America and committed to the cause of illegally raising money for the Contra rebels. Conveniently for Blandon, the Reagan Administration and the CIA had the same goal.

What were the surest ways to the make a quick buck in the 1980s? Produce an Eddie Murphy comedy, learn to play the Keytar, or sell cocaine. The CIA and Blandon chose the latter.

When Marc Levin is weaving the story of the crack epidemic, “Freeway” is terrific and spellbinding. Too much of the film, however, is spent trying to get us to care about Freeway Rick Ross today.

Now Freeway is just a humorless old man. His attempt to sue the rapper Rick Ross for stealing his name makes the retired drug dealer seem pathetic and petty.

The best way to enjoy “Freeway: Crack in the System” is to fast forward through all the parts about present day Freeway Rick Ross. The 80s history lesson is the part that’s worth watching.

Levin confidently addresses the truth behind the Urban Legend about the government and crack in the inner city.

No, the government didn’t invent crack. Yes, the CIA worked with Central American drug lords to smuggle cocaine into the United States to raise money for the Contras.

And, no, the feds did not target black communities to sell their drugs. Freeway Rick Ross did that. Strange that this movie works so hard to get us to like this jerk.

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