American Gangster - First Season - at first glance may suggest a
repetition of content with the relatively large number of other
underworld documentaries, the only difference being much unique
material for the most part, explained from the series being
created, broadcast and intended for BET cable TV.
Each episode is 40 minutes, well edited with a decent audio
accompaniment. The historical narrative is sufficient, and the story
is backed up by direct face to face witnesses about events from days
gone by. Unlike some other series, there are no academicians or
historians, replaced instead with the versions of law enforcement
officers of the time and major public figures.
In the episode concerning South Central LA, the 1970's and 1980's
and Rick "Freeway" Ross, the entire controversy of CIA involvement
in the narcotics for cash for the Nicaragua Contra's is gone over
one more time. The CIA's asset and connection in the USA, Danilo
Blandone, orchestrated the import of cocaine from Colombia's
Medellin cartel, at disguised or CIA paid aerodromes, about the
length and size of a soccer field around many locations in South
USA. For the uninformed, Congress had cut off funding for USA
supported rebels attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan Marxist
government, and so it is said, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North,
POTUS Ronald Reagan, VP GHW Bush, William J. Casey, Admiral John
Poindexter and others were said in the papers to either have
knowledge or went along with the operations at the time.
The footage of the series works well in accompanying the narrative,
albeit extremely selective in avoiding any offensive or
We hear that Ricky Ross was a charismatic yet bizarre choice for the
boss position in the organization, considering illiteracy, lack of
sophistication in clothes, lifestyle, and familiarity with taxes,
in the use of military equipment (rocket launchers, UZI, AK-47,
etc.) Despite all those shortcomings, Ross surrounded himself with
people who had all those skills, perhaps under suggestion of
Blandone. Admittedly, nobody could be jealous of the profits he made
and how he spent it as the paper he made didn't seem to go to his
The impact of a $25 piece of crack was immense in the community,
with sales of 100 kg worth $2 million per week. The devastation and
epidemic in Los Angeles was stunning ... 90,000 homeless people
began living in cardboard boxes on the streets, destroyed
emotionally and physically from substance abuse.
The CIA and Blandone, were hawks in maintaining their market share
by offering quantities and prices to dealers and consumers that no
other gang could beat, to the point that Ross was gave away $1 and
$5 bills and coins as "garbage" to cohorts, keeping only the big
bills ($20, $100, $1000 and above) for his money counting machines.
From a DEA standpoint (who had taken its marching orders from the
CIA in El Salvador operations and Colombia), and local police, the
chaos still required a public reaction, such as with APC's carrying
battering rams to knock down fortified rock-houses which were
dealer locations), all the while a number of UHF, VHF and radio
scanners were handed over to Ross, to monitor police frequencies.
Ross invested in motels, auto parts dealers and threw parties in the
community to gain a notoriety and acceptance, all the while
strawberries traded tricks for crack, and sentences were made more
severage in face of the calamity. Today, Blandone is under the
witness protection program, while Ross is serving his sentence.