Judge Reduces Sentence of Crack Kingpin Ross

Times Staff Writer

A San Diego judge has reduced the prison sentence for “Freeway” Ricky Ross, the notorious South Los Angeles crack kingpin who ruled the trade in the 1990s, from 20 to 16 1/2 years.

Ross was convicted in 1996 of conspiring to buy more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from a police informant and, based on two prior drug convictions in Texas and Ohio, sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A federal appeals court, however, struck down the sentence, ordering the trial judge to consider the Texas and Ohio convictions as one crime, which led to the 20-year sentence.


The latest reduction took into account Ross’ good behavior in prison.

Ross has been in state prison for nearly 10 years. His defense lawyer, Frank Regan, said with credit for completing a drug prevention program, he could be out in two years.

“It’s still a fairly significant sentence,” Assistant U.S. Atty. William Gallo said. “Remember, no drugs changed hands here. They were trying to get drugs and they didn’t. I believe Ricky Ross was a mover and shaker in the gang community up there [in Los Angeles].... Taking him off the street had a significant impact.”

Ross had once been blamed for introducing crack to South-Central Los Angeles, but the claim was discredited. His legend helped form the basis for a now-debunked conspiracy theory that Nicaragua’s CIA-backed rebels ignited the community’s crack epidemic.