Contact: Lara Johnson, pager: (510) 873 3699

Press Conference to be held on 15 March 1999 @ 12 noon (Ides of March) Outside Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay St, Oakland. Class Action Lawsuit Hotline: (510) 273 2474

Attornies Katya Komisaruk and Bill Simpich will be filing two class action lawsuits against the CIA and Department of Justice (DoJ) on behalf of people who have been harmed by the importation of tons of cocaine into California's metropolitan areas.

The lawsuits - one in Southern California and one in Northern California - are based on a secret agreement between the CIA and DoJ officials, which led to policies protecting, rather than stopping, drug trafficking in crack cocaine.

Each lawsuit concerns two groups of people affected by the crack epidemic: plaintiffs, largely African American, who experienced harms on an individual basis (loved ones killed in drive-by shootings, babies born addicted to crack, etc.); and plaintiffs who experienced injuries suffered by the community as a whole (emergency rooms inundated, business districts gutted, schools becoming danger zones, etc.).

Participation in the Southern California lawsuit is open to qualified residents of the Cities of South Central Los Angeles and Compton. Participation in the Northern California lawsuit is open to qualified residents of the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Residents of these localities can apply to join our cases, but are also free to file their own lawsuits.


The proof of CIA and DoJ official's roles in the crack cocaine epidemic comes directly from testimony and documents made public through congressional investigation, from the10/08/98 Report furnished by the Inspector General of the CIA, and from the 1989 Kerry Report.

On March 16, 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz appeared before the House Intelligence Committee to report on his investigation of the CIA, the Contras and crack cocaine. Hitz testified that beginning in 1982, the CIA entered into an undisclosed agreement with the Department of Justice, allowing CIA officers to refrain from reporting drug trafficking by its "agents, assets, and non-staff employees".

Hitz admitted "there are instances where the CIA did not in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking activity, or take action to resolve the allegation."

When asked by Congressman Norman Dicks of Washington, "Did any of these allegations involve trafficking in the United States?", Hitz's answered "yes." Hitz acknowledged that the CIA knew of drug trafficking allegations "regarding dozens of individuals and a number of companies connected in some fashion to the Contra program or the Contra movement."

Through the secret agreement, the CIA and DoJ attempted to exempt the CIA >from reporting about the drug trafficking of persons "employed by, assigned to, or acting for an agency within the intelligence community."

However, the CIA/DoJ agreement violated a federal statute, 28 USC 535, which "imposes a duty on every department and agency in the Executive Branch to report promptly to the Attorney General any information, allegations or complaints relating to possible violations of [criminal law] by officers and employees of the government."

The private CIA/DoJ agreement attempted to get around this federal law by redefining the term "employee" to mean only full-time career officials - as opposed to persons "employed by, assigned to, or acting for an agency within the intelligence community." In addition, the secret agreement violated Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981, which required the reporting of drug crimes.

In the opening phase of crack epidemic, between 1982 and1986, CIA officers and sources received reports concerning major cocaine importers in the Bay Area, Norwin Meneses and Danillo Blandon.

These suppliers funneled vast quantities of cocaine to "Freeway Rick" Ross, who proceeded to flood South Central Los Angeles with a new, low-cost product - crack.

There is documentation showing that the CIA was informed about this and other sources of Contra-supplied crack cocaine. But the CIA remained silent as shipment after shipment of this new intensely addictive form of the drug spread throughout South Central Los Angeles and Compton.

The result was the death and addiction of men, women and children, the collapse of families, relationships, communities and businesses, and the destruction of whole neighborhoods.

Once this initial market was glutted, mid-level dealers diverted the flow to other African American communities in California, such as East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond.

A primary rationale for the CIA'S not intervening was that the drug profits went, in part, to support the efforts of the Contra guerillas against the Nicaraguan government. (We do not, at this time, allege that CIA agents were personally involved in drug smuggling or specifically targeted the African American community.)


Theory of Causation

The signatories of the CIA/DoJ secret agreement -- Attorney General William French Smith and CIA Director William Casey-- and their successors, agencies and agents are legally liable for the pipeline of crack cocaine which inundated California urban centers from 1982 to 1985, and for the after-effects which continue to the present day.

Smith, Casey, their successors and their agents knew or should have known that failing to report drug crimes would interfere with law enforcement agencies' efforts to halt the importation of cocaine, and that this would ultimately result in a "crack epidemic", involving addiction, death, incarceration, increased crime, higher taxes, exhaustion of social services, and destruction of businesses.

The outcome followed the well-known pattern of opium in China and heroin in the United States, which similarly devastated low-income urban communities.

The proof of the harm, which ensued, is based on official statistical evidence from city and county budgets, public health departments, hospitals, police departments, courts, and jails. In addition, individual plaintiffs and witnesses will testify concerning the injuries they sustained due to the crack epidemic.

Causes of Action

1. The CIA's failure to report allegations of drug crimes, along with the DoJ's acquiescence to this non-reporting, interfered with law enforcement's efforts to thwart the importation of crack cocaine. This violated plaintiff's right to due process, as guaranteed by the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs were denied equal protection because:

(a) defendants violated federal law and executive orders requiring that drug crimes be reported, and this failure to report impacted the plaintiff's; and

(b) as a result of defendant's conduct, plaintiffs did not receive adequate law enforcement protection in their communities.

For this violation of their civil rights, plaintiffs are entitled to relief pursuant to Bivents v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).

2. CIA and DoJ agents failed to perform duties owed to the plaintiffs, particularly their duties to follow the law and report drug crimes. The district court has the power to compel federal officers or employees to perform their duties, pursuant to 28 United States Code section 1361.

3. The CIA's failure to report allegations of drug crimes, along with the DoJ's acquiescence to this non-reporting, interfered with law enforcement's efforts to thwart the importation of crack cocaine. Because the crack epidemic was not promptly and adequately halted, plaintiff's communities became dangerous, impoverished and inadequately supported by social services. These unlivable conditions, in which plaintiffs could not comfortably enjoy life and property, constitute the tort of "public nuisance," and plaintiffs who were particularly impacted by this public nuisance [threat to life and health] are entitled relief. (Plaintiffs hereby give notice that the complaint will be amended to include the following cause of action, pending the outcome of the simultaneously filed federal tort claim.)

Relief Sought

Declaratory: Plaintiff's seek a declaration that the secret CIA/DoJ agreement and the consequent policy and practice of not reporting crimes, were illegal.

Injunctive: Plaintiffs seek an order requiring the CIA to report to the DoJ all possible drug crimes by all persons, as has been previously required by executive order.

Damages: Plaintiffs seek money to rebuild the community & to fund drug treatment.

Amandla Awethu
Power to the People

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