Drug War

"Freeway" Rick Ross on How He Introduced Crack to the U.S. and Made Millions Off the War on Drugs

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"Without this artificial price that we put on cocaine, I wouldn't have been selling cocaine," explains "Freeway" Rick Ross, the notorious drug dealer from the 1980s who is widely credited with introducing crack cocaine in Los Angeles and, eventually, nationwide.

Ross recently sat down with Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller to talk about his rise to—and fall from—power, the impact of crack on Los Angeles and the rest of the country, as well as his views on the effectiveness of the war on drugs.

"The drug war that we're fighting right now is a total failure," Ross says. "There's more drugs on the street of America than ever before."

In the interview, Ross tells of how he managed to build a cocaine empire by shrewdly saving and investing his profits, pioneering new business models, and switching from powder cocaine to crack cocaine. When asked what was so attractive about selling cocaine, Ross answers quickly: "The money." 

Ross has a new autobiography out, will be featured in the upcoming documentary Freeway: Crack in the System, and is portrayed by Michael K. Williams in the new movie Kill the Messenger, which tells the story of the late journalist Gary Webb.

Ross was a source for Webb, who alleged that the CIA had a role in the introduction of crack to the U.S. When asked if he thinks the CIA was actively involved, he says, "It doesn't matter if they purposely planned on doing that. What wound up happening is it flooded the ghettos of America. […] 600,000 black men are in prison right now for nonviolent crimes. Our prison industry has boomed."

For the full interview, watch the video above. Click below for downloadable versions. And subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for daily content like this.

About 10:30 minutes.

Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Produced by Justin Monticello. Shot by Alexis Garcia and William Neff.