The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Re: Request for Hearings

Dear Chairman Hyde:

I am writing to request immediate hearings by the Committee on the Judiciary into recent allegations regarding the government's role in financing and trafficking crack cocaine into my district in South Central Los Angeles and other inner city neighborhoods across this country.

The allegations about the government's alleged role have been detailed in an ongoing series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News. As indicated in one of the articles, dated August 18, 1996, which I have attached, at least two men -- Norwin Meneses, a Nicaraguan drug trafficker, and Danilo Blandon, a Nicaraguan business person connected to the Contra rebels -- allegedly funneled ''cut-rate cocaine'' to South Central Los Angeles gangs through a young man named Ricky Ross, who lives in my district and who I have met previously. The Central Intelligence Agency then apparently used the proceeds from the drug sales to Mr. Ross and other gang members to help finance the purchase of weapons and equipment for the Contras to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

In addition, Mr. Blandon apparently still is a paid informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency. He recently testified against Mr. Ross in exchange for his ability to walk the streets a free man despite years of systematically, and apparently without remorse, pumping the most deadly and destructive drugs into inner city neighborhoods and providing the ''seed'' money to buy automatic weapons, which have spawned massive inner-city blood shed and death.

As you know, in the late 1980s, Congress held extensive hearings on the connection between foreign policy, narcotics, and law enforcement. Those hearings produced damning evidence of wrongdoing. However, due to continual obstruction, from many different sources -- including federal law enforcement agencies -- those hearings were not able to establish as precise a trail of as the recent San Jose Mercury News article has, at least as it pertains to the origin of the crack cocaine trade in the U.S.

Crack cocaine has ravaged my community as well as other communities in this country. You know that I am deeply concerned about this problem. In addition to the human devastation caused by crack cocaine use, I am also dismayed by the heavy-handed, arbitrary and discriminatory mandatory minimum sentences which politicians have attached to crack cocaine use and possession. These sentences have the effect of severely punishing small-time users, and are prosecuted in a discriminatory way which disproportionately impacts African-American and Latino males. However, as indicated in the article, major drug traffickers like Mr. Meneses and Mr. Blandon receive virtually no punishment or jail time.

Again, the notion that a U.S.-government agency knew about the drug-tainted resources that were funding a war in Nicaragua, and the idea that those involved allowed a major infusion of cocaine onto the streets of America because of its blind devotion to win a war -- a war which was at the time being conducted secretly -- is among the more devastating assertions one could make about this government.

As someone who has seen how the crack cocaine trade has devastated the South-Central Los Angeles community, and as a public official, I cannot exaggerate my feelings of dismay that my own government may have played a part in the origins and history of this problem. If the allegations raised in the San Jose Mercury News are true then those actions are tantamount to ''treason.''

The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction to investigate the allegations, including allegations of criminal wrongdoing and domestic drug trafficking by a law enforcement agency, raised by the San Jose Mercury News. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I call on you to hold hearings to help the American citizens get needed answers to these disturbing allegations.


Maxine Waters
Member of Congress