By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
"Are you sure about this?"
"I wouldn't want you to quote me on it," she said, "but, yes, I'm pretty sure. You can always call Alan Fenster, Ross' attorney, and ask him. I'm sure he knows."
Fenster was out, so I left a message on his voice mail, telling him I was working on a story about Oscar Danilo Blandon and wanted to interview him. When I a got back from lunch, I found a message from Fenster waiting. It said: "Oscar who?"
My heart sank. I'd suspected it was a bum lead, but I'd been keeping my fingers crossed anyway. I should have known; that would have been too perfect. I called Fenster back to thank him for his time, and he asked what kind of a story I was working on. I told him - the contras and cocaine.
"I'm curious," he said. "What made you think this Oscar person was involved in Ricky's case?"
I told him what Brooks had related, and he gasped.
"He's the informant? Are you serious? No wonder those bastards won't give me his name!" Fenster began swearing a blue streak.
"Forgive me," he said. "But if you only knew what kind of bullshit I've been going through to get that information from those sons of bitches, and then some reporter calls me up from San Jose and he knows all about him, it just makes me . . ."
"Your client didn't tell you his name?"
"He didn't know it! He only knew him as Danilo, and then he wasn't even sure that was his real name. You and Ricky need to talk. I'll have him call you." He hung up abruptly.
Ross called a few hours later. I asked him what he knew about Blandon. "A lot," he said. "He was almost like a godfather to me. He's the one who got me going."
"Was he your main source?"
"He was. Everybody I knew, I knew through him. So really, he could be considered as my only source. In a sense, he was."
"When was this?"
"'81 or '82. Right when I was getting going."
Damn, I thought. That was right when Blandon said he started dealing drugs.
"Would you be willing to sit down and talk to me about this?" I asked.
"Hell, yeah. I'll tell you anything you want to know."
At the end of September 1995 I spent a week in San Diego, going through the files of the Ross case, interviewing defense attorneys and prosecutors, listening to undercover DEA tapes. I attended a discovery hearing and watched as Fenster and the other defense lawyers made another futile attempt to find out details about the government's informant, so they could begin preparing their defenses. Assistant U.S. Attorney O'Neale refused to provide a thing. They'd get what they were entitled to, he promised, 10 days before trial.
"See what I mean?" Fenster asked me on his way out. "It's like the trial in Alice in Wonderland."
I spent hours with Ross at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He knew nothing of Blandon's past, I discovered. He had no idea who the contras were or whose side they were on. To him, Danilo was just a nice guy with a lot of cheap dope.
"What would you say if I were to tell you that he was working for the contras, selling cocaine to help them buy weapons and supplies?" I asked.
Ross goggled. "And they put me in jail? I'd say that was some fucked-up shit there. They say I sold dope all over, but man, I know he done sold 10 times more than me. Are you being straight with me?" I told him I had documents to prove it. Ross just shook his head and looked away.
"He's been working for the government the whole damn time," he muttered.
Reprinted from the new book Dark Alliance by Gary Webb, with permission from the author and Seven Stories Press.