Gary Webb with his exposé about the CIA and crack. [Source:]

On December 10, 2004, the body of journalist Gary Webb, 49, was discovered in his home near Sacramento after a moving company worker found a note posted to his front door that read: “Please do not enter. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.”

Webb’s death was listed as a suicide, but Webb was found with two bullet holes in the head, indicating that he was executed.[1]

In the days leading up to his death, Webb had told friends that he was receiving death threats, being regularly followed by what he thought were government agents, and that he was concerned about strange individuals who were seen breaking into and leaving his house.

In the late 1990s, Webb had written a series of stories for the San José Mercury News, which provided the basis for his book, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1998).

In it, Webb detailed how the explosion of crack cocaine in South Central Los Angeles during the 1980s was sparked by two Nicaraguan émigrés, Danilo Blandón and Norwin Meneses, who sold huge amounts of cocaine to raise funds for a CIA-backed rebel army—the Contras.

Webb was a Pulitzer Prize winner whose “Dark Alliance” series went viral in the early days of the internet. It caused a firestorm that led to the resignation of CIA Director John Deutch after he was grilled by angry Black activists at a meeting in L.A.[2]

Webb’s story had traced how cocaine was shipped into San Francisco and distributed in L.A. after Blandón and Meneses sold it to a street dealer from South Central named “Freeway” Ricky Ross.

Through this connection, “Freeway Rick” became a crack kingpin, using his contacts with L.A.’s Crips and Blood street gangs to help distribute crack to many other cities across the country.

“Freeway” Ricky Ross [Source:]

Webb had first heard about the story after receiving a tip from the girlfriend of a drug dealer against whom Blandón was testifying.

A person sitting on a couch with stacks of papers

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Gary Webb in 1997. [Source:]

In his lead paragraph, Webb wrote that “a Bay Area drug ring had funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency” which was in league with “Uzi-toting ‘gangstas’ of Compton and South-Central L.A.”

The thrust of Webb’s research was confirmed in 1998 when a CIA inspector general’s report acknowledged that the CIA had worked with suspected drugrunners while supporting the Contras in Nicaragua.[3]


The corruption Webb exposed led all the way to the White House and President Reagan via his aide, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who was coordinating, under Reagan’s orders, the illegal supplying to the Contras of weapons that were purchased with profits from the cocaine being smuggled into the U.S. and distributed around the country by criminals in league with the CIA.

Oliver North [Source:]

Because of the far-reaching implications, Webb became the target of what Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair called “one of the most venomous and factually inane assaults on a professional journalist’s competence in living memory.”

The assault was spearheaded by the CIA in collaboration with the major agenda-setting media like The New York Times, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times—which put some 17 reporters on the assignment to destroy Webb.[4]

The Mercury News’s top editor, Jerry Ceppos, ultimately buckled, and threw Webb to the wolves, deleting the website and penning a letter of apology to the readers for the “Dark Alliance” series.[5]

Jerome Ceppos, former executive editor of The Mercury News and Dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, has died at 75. (Richard Wisdom/Bay Area News Group Archive)
Jerry Ceppos [Source:]

Webb was in turn banished to a small Mercury News bureau in Cupertino, California, south of San Francisco—125 miles from his home and family in Sacramento—and forced to write stories normally assigned to cub reporters. His career was effectively destroyed and he would never again get a job with a daily newspaper.

Clan warfare: LANatomas guns down members of a Seattle clan during a round of league play. Carson Loane, foreground, patrols the left flank while clan leader Jeff Muramoto, center, calls out strategies to his squad.
Pentagon video game warriors. [Source:]

Webb stood by his research, nevertheless, and continued to expose corruption as a freelance journalist. His final publication unearthed the strategic use of video games by the Pentagon as a method of indoctrination and recruitment of teenage boys.

When a group of veteran Black activists spoke to Webb a few days before his supposed suicide, they found him exciting to have received an invitation to speak at a Harlem community meeting about his research on the CIA-Contra-crack cocaine connection, feeling that he was finally going to get recognition for his investigative work from folks who were at the center of the 1980s East Coast crack boom.

Sam Anderson, a member of the veteran group, told CovertAction Magazine that Webb told the veterans that he had made plans to interview addicts, ordinary Harlemites, activists, medical and social workers and others. When the veterans heard on the news that Webb had “committed suicide,” they knew right away from their own encounters with the FBI’s COINTELPRO that it was a coverup.

In a tribute to Webb, Robert Parry, the founder of Consortium News, wrote that Webb’s death marked “an exclamation point” on a “sorry era of journalism that began with the rise of Ronald Reagan and saw the gradual retreat—under right-wing fire—of what had once been Washington’s Watergate/Pentagon Papers watchdog press corps.”

Robert Parry [Source:]

Since these words were written, things have only gotten worse, with the media helping to advance the Russia Gate conspiracy theory while promoting scurrilous allegations against Russia that have helped mobilize public support for the war in Ukraine.

All the more reason to honor Webb and the uncompromising journalistic integrity that he stood for.

  1. Webb’s friends said that there is no way he would have taken his own life: He loved life and loved his kids. His cause of death was changed to “single gunshot wound” when people began to question how or why a man would shoot himself in the face twice. This represented a concentrated effort to cover up the nature of Webb’s death. After Webb died, he was immediately cremated thereby destroying forensic evidence of the gunshot wounds.

  2. Webb’s book was endorsed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) who said that “the time I spent investigating the allegations of the Dark Alliance series led me to the undeniable conclusion that the CIA, DEA, DIA and FBI knew about drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles. They were either part of the trafficking or turned a blind eye to it, in an effort to fund the contra war. . . . This book is the final chapter on this sordid tale and brings to light one of the worst official abuses in our nation’s history.”

  3. Associated Press journalists Robert Parry and Brian Barger had earlier reported that Contra groups had “engaged in cocaine trafficking, in part to help finance their war against Nicaragua.”

  4. Alexander Cockburn wrote at CounterPunch that “squadrons of hacks, some of them with career-long ties to the CIA, sprayed thousands of words of vitriol over Webb and his paper, the San Jose Mercury News, for besmirching the Agency’s fine name by charging it with complicity in the importing of cocaine into the U.S.” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell characteristically branded Webb’s story as a “conspiracy theory.

  5. Ceppos went on to receive an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his “superior ethical conduct” in handling the aftermath of the series and, in 1999, was promoted to vice president for news at Knight-Ridder.

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  1. So i went and interviewed my Dad and his associates of Trauma Emergency room surgeons all board certified; because you and Mike have me totally conviced that a human being after shooting himself in the head, will be so acutely aware of it’s survival because of non-lethality of the first shot; he’d do it again.
    But my dad then proceeded to teach me about anatomy. “The human head is incapable of receiving the head trauma and my dad also said nowhere in medicine is there such a thing called a non lethal head shot. “He proceeded to the door and said lets test this theory.” After paying 5 home less men to give themselves a non lethal shot on video so we’d actually have medical proof; it turns out you are correct sir!! Each man said if you pull the trigger of your gun slowly, the bullets are designed to weaken down to you’re right “non lethal!!!” Well you can imagine how but hurt i was; Each one survived- but were so gung-ho to be an integral part of Mikes BS they then demonstrated a fast trigger pull which immediately blew each ones brains out onto my phone. I have video proof. Gary used “slow trigger” cause he was but hurt as well. It all makes sense!

  2. I attended a service for Webb at a hotel in Sacramento. Ruppert gave the eulogy. Mike told me he personally thought it was suicide, that the first shot was poor (non-lethal) so Gary had to do it again. Ruppert was not surprised. The way Gary was hounded and his integrity denigrated by the All-Powerful Bastards, it destroyed his faith in everything, and destroyed his family. They killed him, even if they didn’t pull the trigger. After the service, I walked to the hotel bar. Gary’s daughter, not more than 18 at the most, came to the bar and said, “I’m getting drunk.”

    • Robert, I understand your email.
      And, yes, Mike Ruppert has his opinion. And, I like Mike Ruppert a lot. Another suicide victim. Geez, a lot of suicides connected to this sleazy but dangerous case.
      Nevertheless, Gary Webb was murdered. I talked to cops that I know.
      Assuming that Mr. Webb has two bullet holes in his head.
      There is no way that Mr. Webb was conscious enough to put another bullet hole in his head.
      But, Robert, your underlying analysis is quite correct. Gary Webb’s life was utterly destroyed.
      Without a doubt, the CIA and the Drug Cartel were quite satisfied with Webb’s death.
      Put simply, the man knew way too much about their “CIA-Cartel” Operation and he had to go.
      I have no doubts that Gary Webb was going to write a sequel to his great & powerful work.
      Gary Webb was a dogged reporter. No way, he would let the CIA-Cartel have the last word.
      The CIA and the Drug Cartel knew this. And, they could not let that happen.
      Two bullets in the head. Standard Operating Procedure for a proper hit.

  3. Good Evening:

    I like Michael Ruppert. I watched his podcasts and interviews. Michael did some very good things in his life. But, at times, he came off as a self-righteous and self-important blowhard.

    No disrespect intended. I mean it.

    Michael indeed stood up to the government when others hid in disgrace.

    Nevertheless, his explanation for the suicide (?) of Gary Webb is a little weird, if not b.s.

    Michael often claimed that the “government” was going to kill him as well. In the end, it was “claimed” that Michael also committed suicide. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

    Maybe its me, but there sure seems to be a lot of suicides among those who investigated the connection between the CIA – Cocaine – the Contras. The (3) C’s were not good for the health of journalists or investigators like Webb or Ruppert, respectively. Just stating a fact.

    Michael’s death was also connected to the CIA-Cocaine-Contra triangle.

    Michael’s suicide is a bit far-fetched because he loved himself a hell of a lot. I mean a lot.

    Finally, I have never heard of a suicide victim shooting himself/herself twice in the head, because the first shot was “off target”….What..!?!….

    Please, not another “magic bullet” theory..!!…That only worked with JFK’s murder in Dallas.

    I come from a family of cops, and soldiers……Never…..I mean never, have I ever heard of such nonsense.

    Think about it, ladies and gentlemen. Gary Webb shoots himself in the head, but he maintains the mental wherewithal to shoot himself again — with an “on-target” shot.

    Who in the hell believes such nonsense?

    Did Michael Ruppert really believe this nonsense? Or, was he pressured into confirming this “Oswaldian” theory.

    As LBJ used to say, “Don’t piss down my leg, and then tell me it’s raining!”

  4. One of Webb’s friends and allies was former LAPD Narcotics Detective Michael C. Ruppert (RIP, also an apparent suicide) – who had been blowing the whistle about CIA drug running for quite some time, by the time of Gary Webb’s article.

    You can see him ending Clinton CIA Director John Deutch’s career, at Locke High School in Watts, at a public meeting, called in the wake of Webb’s Dark Alliance articles being published – Here: (it’s fairly early-on, in a video that’s worth watching in it’s entirety).

    I say all that, because Ruppert did his own investigation of Webb’s death, when he heard about it. He went to the scene, looked at the evidence, and questioned people who were close to Webb. He came to the conclusion that Webb HAD taken his own life – pulling the trigger a second time, when the first shot was off-target.

    He still blamed the US Government and Intelligence Agencies for Webb’s death, because they had orchestrated an OPERATION MOCKINGBIRD-like campaign to destroy his career and professional reputation, using assets like the notorious and odious David Corn (at that time infiltrated into The Nation) to discredit him and his work, dishonestly. But he was unconvinced by the rumors which immediately began to fly, and the accompanying narrative – after what he claimed was a diligent inquest, by a competent and well-trained investigator, who was friends with the deceased.

    I note that the sources you cite are farther removed from the scene, and appear to have incorrect information – to my knowledge it was a handgun, not a shotgun that killed him. “In the face” may be a misinterpretation – of a gunshot(s) from inside the mouth – or just entirely erroneous. If the CIA is going to kill you, and make it look like a suicide, they aren’t going to do it in a sloppy manner (two shots) – unless they WANT people to know that it isn’t a suicide.

    When I heard of his death, and these kinds of reports, I was immediately inclined to believe them. However, after discussing the facts with Mike Ruppert, I was led to believe the contrary. It was a several minute conversation – and he spoke at length about contrary indications he had. The storyline you’re quoting is coming 2nd and 3rd hand, from a guy in prison, after all – and Alex Jones. I just thought I should point this out. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just pointing out that a friend/colleague of his, who would naturally be amenable to believe the story, went to extensive lengths to investigate it, and came to the opposite conclusion.

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