In an age of so-called ‘Fake News’ and news networks working with an agenda, it takes a special type of person to be a reporter: at least a reporter with integrity anyway. It seems that more and more these days, the news is something fabricated to fit our palates in just the right way.
A few years ago, one brave reporter decided to speak out against and get to the bottom of a drug epidemic that was ravaging our country:
The officers walked in to find the man dead in his chair, he had two gunshot wounds in his head. By all outward appearances, it looked as if Jeff Webb had committed suicide. However, as the investigation wore on, it became very clear to many people, including the coroner, that it was very unusual for there to be two shots in a suicide case. But then, who could have killed him?
To understand this case, one must go back to the beginning. To the small California suburb where Jeff was born. Jeff was one of two children and his father, a marine sergeant, was constantly moving the family around for much of his youth. Then one day, the family settled in the suburbs of Indianapolis…
When he was done with high school, Jeff attended Northern Kentucky University and entered the journalism program. He had gained a taste for it while attending community college and writing for the school paper there. He did the same thing at Northern Kentucky and though he didn’t finish his degree, he would up working for the Kentucky Post after four years.
Starting a Family
In 1979, a year after he got the job at the paper, Jeff met and married Susan Bell. The two had three children together over the course of their long marriage, but Jeff it seemed was always more fond of the truth than anything else. In 1980, he began his first investigative report, and it blew the lid off a conspiracy in the coal industry…
The Kentucky Post published Jeff’s seventeen-part series, “The Coal Connection,” in 1980. The series was unique in that it examined the unusual murder of a coal company president with suspected ties to organized crime. It was an award-winning revelation and would cement Jeff’s career as a reporter who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
By 1983 Jeff had earned a reputation as a truth seeker when he uncovered problems with the State Medical Board in Ohio. “Doctoring the Truth,” led to an Ohio House investigation which in turn resulted in major revisions to the state Medical Practice Act. The awards and the fame were coming in, until he decided to tackle the big guns…
In July of 1995, Jeff Webb had begun researching something which was going to blow the lid off the booming crack cocaine trade currently laying waste to Los Angeles. His series, which would be entitled “Dark Alliance”, would uncover a sinister connection between the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua and a group much closer to home.
The series focused on the lives and “careers” of three men: Ricky Ross, Oscar Danilo Blandón, and Norwin Meneses. While Ross was a major drug dealer in Los Angeles, Blandón and Meneses were Nicaraguans who smuggled drugs into the U.S. As interesting as these criminals were, it wasn’t this relationship that Jeff Webb was interested in, but their connection with a powerful US entity…
This drug ring, as Jeff Webb put it, “opened the first pipeline between Colombia’s cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles” As a result, the cocaine flooded in and eventually crack was born in urban America. It affected lower income, urban areas where minorities were the majority.
A Bold Claim
The basic claims of the series that the San Francisco Bay Area drug ring, which was made up of the Crips and Bloods street gangs, funnelled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army which was run by none other than the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It was a bold claim to be sure….
The articles essentially explained that the Contras were acting as they did in the certain knowledge that the CIA had their back. As expected, the series provoked a fair amount of uncertainty, outrage, and interest from the community. It was the first time in a long time that the secret dealing of the CIA had been laid bare in the public eye.
The publication of Dark Alliance, bold and popular as it eventually became, was slow to make any real change. Other news papers were slow to pick up the story and as such, African-Americans in South-Central LA took notice and began to rage at the culprits of this unbelievable conspiracy. The community was up in arms about the whole ordeal and demanded investigations take place…
Jeff had his critics of course and supporters of the US government saw the series’ claims as inaccurate or overstated. At the same time though, a multitude of supporters, including some high-ranking government officials, took the article as an opportunity to do something about the drug problem and corruption.
California senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were so incensed and appalled by what they read, that they wrote to CIA director John Deutch and Attorney General Janet Reno, to clarify what was said with an investigation. Eventually the government had to acquiesce to the demand for some sort of accountability…
Maxine Waters, the Representative for California’s 35th district, which includes South-Central Los Angeles, was outraged by the articles. She became one of Jeff Webb’s greatest public supporters and urged the CIA, the Department of Justice, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate the claims.
Three federal investigations had been announced before the year was up. Two of them were put into place to examine CIA allegations and the third took a thorough look into law enforcement allegations. Unfortunately for Jeff Webb though, the articles, for all the social change they inspired, had done little to help his career…
End of a Career
Webb was given permission to visit Central America to get more evidence a few years later, but was unsuccessful. Ultimately things with the paper fell apart for Jeff Webb and in November of 1997, he ended up resigning. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the CIA soon released their findings.
Insult to Injury
The reports of the three federal investigations into the claims of “Dark Alliance” were eventually released. As expected, all three reports rejected Webb’s claims. However, there was a light in the darkness of sorts, all of them were fairly critical of some CIA and law enforcement actions regarding the matters discussed. But that still didn’t answer the question, who killed Jeff Webb?
Webb’s mysterious death in 2004 somewhat reinvigorated the public’s interest in Dark Alliance and the secret connection that he so bravely exposed to the world. Rumors flew across the internet that Webb had been killed as some sort of retribution for his expose eight years before. Rumors notwithstanding, it was Jeff’s ex-wife Susan Bell who came forward with clarification.
Susan explained that years of bitter disappointment in his career and his legacy had left Jeff depressed and unhappy for some time. “The way he was acting it would be hard for me to believe it was anything but suicide,” she explained. Ultimately, Webb’s death was officially ruled a suicide, but many believe it was recompense for shining light on something that the CIA never wanted anyone to know.