Who was the Infamous Cocaine Dealer, Freeway Ricky Ross?

Last updated on April 8th, 2024 at 05:48 pm

American drug history is full of larger-than-life figures. They range from petty criminals to infamous gangs, and high-profile drug lords like the one we’re going to discuss today–Freeway Ricky Ross. 

When the cards were stacked against Ricky, making it almost impossible for him to lead a lucrative, legal life, he instead rose to prominence by distributing cocaine in mind-boggling amounts. 

Freeway Ricky Ross didn’t bother with flashy jewels or extravagant spending, which might be why he avoided arrest for so long. Eventually, Ricky’s luck ran out and he was arrested.

So why is Freeway Ricky Ross free now, and just how big did his cocaine empire actually become?

Ricky Donnell Ross

The Early Life of Freeway Ricky Ross

Born on January 26, 1960, in Terrell, Texas, Rick Ross and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was young. By his teenage years, Ross was attending Susan Miller Dorsey High School.

During those years, it wasn’t drugs that he envisioned creating his future. Instead, it was tennis, a sport he had picked up as a kid and learned to excel in. 

At the time, Susan Miller Dorsey High School was producing championship tennis players, and Ross saw his future among them. Life wasn’t easy–his mother was arrested for killing his uncle when a domestic dispute broke out between the two. Ricky Ross saw tennis as a way out. 

Unfortunately, he never learned how to read, and his grades suffered for it. This illiteracy also kept him away from any real prospects for college, which he had been depending on a tennis scholarship to attend. 

So by the time high school was finished, the one hopeful door that Ricky Ross had was closed. But another one was opening–the door that led to the world of cocaine distribution. 

Freeway Ricky Ross and the Beginning of His Cocaine Empire

During a brief stint in a local community college, Ricky Ross studied auto upholstery. Oddly enough, it was his upholstery teacher who first gave the young man cocaine to sell, and Ross was uncommonly good at it. 

Freeway Ricky Ross quickly outgrew this small-time cocaine dealing and moved on to bigger projects. He moved through other small-time dealers, eventually coming into contact with a Nicaraguan cocaine supplier named Oscar Danilo Blandon.

The supply Ross had access to through Blandon was seemingly limitless. In 1982, Ross was said to be buying 1,000 pounds, or 454 kilos, of cocaine a week and claimed to be selling almost 3 million dollars of the drug a day. 

Why Do They Call Rick Ross Freeway?

As Rick Ross’s profits grew, he started to purchase properties as investments and as a way to launder the money he was making from his drug sales. He earned the nickname Freeway because most of these properties were located along Los Angeles’ Interstate 110, or Harbor Freeway. 

Freeway Ricky Ross, Vice

Freeway Ricky Ross’s Drug Empire and Arrest 

Eclipsing anything he had thought possible in his youth, Freeway Ricky Ross was rapidly becoming one of the biggest cocaine suppliers in the country. At the same time, his meteoric rise to prominence in the drug trade was catching the attention of both local police and the DEA. 

Ross’s ring of dealers used police scanners and voice scramblers to keep themselves hidden. There was another reason that Ricky Ross might have avoided arrest for so long though.

He claimed that the CIA was helping to fund the Contras in Nicaragua via the money Ross made for his Contra-affiliated dealer, Oscar Danilo Blandon.

At the height of his success, Freeway Ricky Ross bought and distributed metric tons of cocaine to not just Los Angeles, but to the entire country. He claimed that Cincinnati, Ohio, was one of his most lucrative markets. But other states like his birthplace of Texas and unlikely locations like Oklahoma were also part of his empire. 

Eventually, he couldn’t avoid arrest any longer, and on September 28, 1988, Ross was arrested on charges from a drug bust in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Ross’s network was moving nine kilos of cocaine to Cincinnati but was intercepted on the way. This led to Freeway Ricky Ross and several other individuals being arrested. 

Freeway Ricky Ross’s arrest brought to light major corruption in the Los Angeles police department. Ross leveraged his testimony against these corrupt officers to have his sentence lessened. He eventually served 51 months. 

Things weren’t easy after his release, though. Freeway Ricky Ross was quickly caught up in yet another incident of drug trafficking organized by his long-time associate, Blandon.

Again, Ross was caught and arrested. This time he would be sentenced to life in prison, stemming from his past and the astronomical amount of cocaine he had been busted with–100 kilos of the drug. 

Fall From Grace and Release

Freeway Ricky Ross had another stroke of luck when his sentence was reduced to 20 years. He would serve 16.5 of these years and be released in 2009.

During his stint in prison, Ross spent his time learning to read and reacquainting himself with his first love–tennis. The Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana, where Ross was imprisoned, had a tennis court. Ross claimed that while in prison he became more talented in the sport than ever before.

Once he was released, Ross dedicated himself to advocacy and outreach within his community. He authored a book, Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Autobiography.

He has made a name as a motivational speaker for youths. He encourages them to take a different path than the tortured one he found himself on not long after he graduated. 

Today, Rick Ross has two children of his own, and he is coaching them in the sport that he hoped would shape his life for the better. Tennis has never left Ross’s heart, and with his help, he hopes his children will have the success he was denied. 


“A Drug Kingpin and His Racket: The Untold Story of Freeway Rick Ross”-Tal Pinchevsky




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