Local lawyer audaciously sues the CIA for importing crack
For the love of North Carolina
Anita E. Belle, Esq.
To briefly introduce myself, I am a Christian minister, a single mother, and an African-American attorney. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, received my bachelor's degree there, but moved to Gainesville, Florida for graduate school and law school. I decided to remain in Florida, mostly because I believe this is where God called me to be.
I never used drugs or sold them, but I was in Detroit at the height of its infamy for being the Murder Capitol. In the beginning, heroin was the major culprit behind so many deaths. Then the drug of choice became crack cocaine. Yet what never made sense to a naive church girl was how both drugs, imported from places where there wasn't a lot of Black people, could end up in such massive quantities in a Chocolate City like Detroit. It seemed obvious to me that someone, who wasn't Black, was using drugs to commit the genocide of Blacks. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that in a "fictional" novel called the "Godfather", the organized crime lord for Detroit persuaded his counterparts in other cities to emulate him and keep the narcotics' flow in Black communities.
As a church girl, I was raised to believe God can do anything. All we needed to do was ask, and He would cast out devils and move mountains. I considered drugs a demon that needed to be cast out of Black communities. So with a mustard seed of faith, I began the quest of spiritual warfare.
I researched that in 1996, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb published that the crack cocaine flowing to the Black community in Los Angeles was brought into America by a Nicaraguan connected to the CIA. The Nicaraguan used the drug money profits to finance the Contras back in his native homeland. Of course, the Black community in Los Angeles was outraged that they were being poisoned and incarcerated in the name of re-establishing democracy in Communist Nicaragua. Their Congresswoman, Maxine Waters, called for an investigation of the CIA. The investigation, concluded in 1998, reported that from 1982-1995, the CIA and Department of Justice had a secret agreement which permitted the CIA to not report all known drug offenders to the law enforcement arms of the Justice Dept. On March 15, 1999, attorneys in California filed a class action lawsuit against the CIA and Dept. of Justice on behalf of Blacks in Los Angeles. I knew people, Black and White, in Florida, New York, and Michigan who had been similarly hurt by crack cocaine. Hence, Florida's class action lawsuit, on behalf of everyone hurt by crack cocaine, was filed on April 15, 1999. The other states soon followed.
However, it grieved me that some states had a one-year statute of limitations' deadline. This meant that even though evidence against the CIA had finally surfaced, if the people in those states did not file class action suits in time, they may lose their right to ever make a claim. I researched which states were affected and sent faxes to the Black radio stations in those states. Hence, Louisiana and North Carolina got filed in May of 1999. (Colorado almost got filed, but the plaintiff there, perhaps intimidated by the Columbine massacre, backed out at the last minute.) By October, Washington DC and Maryland were also filed.
One attorney and class action lawsuits in seven states. I began looking for help! Yet other attorneys did not want to take on the CIA, especially not on the behalf of poor people who can't afford to pay. Some attorneys, quite frankly, confided in me that they were afraid of the CIA and FBI's reputation of "cloak and dagger" counter-intelligence tactics. Indeed, some "strange" things began happening. Given that truth is stranger than fiction, telling the whole story may be more thrilling than the average box-office hit at the movies. Yet because this "adventure" is my real life, I will take a break from legal research and writing to share with you about North Carolina.
The adventure begins with no other attorneys wanting to take on the CIA. The deadline for filing the lawsuit was approaching. I decided to help the plaintiffs by drafting the lawsuits myself. Fearing my telephone was already bugged, and fearing sabotage, I sent the lawsuits by Federal Express rather than the U.S. Postal Service. This was a big mistake!
I paid for the packages to arrive at their destinations in North Carolina, New York, Louisiana, and Colorado by 10:30 a.m. Only the package to Colorado arrived on time, yet ironically, this was the only plaintiff who failed to take the package to the court house. Federal Express gave excuses for the delay. Each time the excuse became more and more exaggerated: There was a thunderstorm at their transfer station in Memphis, Tennessee. The thunderstorm's lightning struck their computers. The computers caught fire. Hence packages were delayed. (I found out later that the package to Louisiana arrived around 9:30 a.m., yet the plaintiff there, as well as I, was told that the package was not in the FedEx office. The plaintiff in Louisiana was not given the package until after 5 p.m. By that time, the courthouse was closed.)
I was told that the airbill for FedEx package to North Carolina "fell off". I gave them verbal instructions of where to deliver the package, insisting the package needed to be delivered that day. However, the plaintiff in North Carolina, a Black single mother, did not drive or own a car. By the time the package was delivered, she had to find another ride to the federal courthouse located in another city. A very determined lady, she made it to the courthouse 10-15 minutes before it closed.
However, something happened to change her determination. Perhaps it was the "coincidence" that after filing the lawsuit, she lost her job at the Black radio station. (The same "coincidence" happened to the disc jockeys who announced the lawsuit in Washington DC.) Unemployment can be very inconvenient for a divorced mother of five children. Although she wouldn't tell me she was quitting the lawsuit, I noticed that she was not filing the papers I sent.
At the same time, the federal courts in North Carolina would not permit me to practice there without assistance from a local attorney. This meant the plaintiff was pro se (unrepresented by a lawyer) against the CIA. In actuality, I informed the court that I was moving to consolidate the seven cases. The consolidation rules would permit me to practice wherever the case was transferred, even if I was not licensed in that particular state. Yet while preparing to consolidate, I needed the plaintiff to file the documents I drafted. Otherwise, I needed co-counsel in North Carolina. The plaintiff began to behave more and more intimidated. My searching and begging attorneys in North Carolina to help me (for free) yielded disappointing results. In the meantime, I was contacted by Walter Lamb.
Walter is a White male from a small town near Greensboro, North Carolina. He told me that his brother, David, was a former CIA operative. He said that David was now in federal prison on trumped up charges that arose when David began blowing the whistle against the CIA's activities. He stated that his brother David witnessed planes landing near Orlando, Florida, currying cocaine on behalf of a very prominent political family. He said that David also knew about cocaine "safe houses" in North Carolina. He feared for his brother David's life. Would I help his brother?
By the time Walter Lamb contacted me, I was somewhat jaded. People tried to trick me several times. Usually the deception was in the form of a Black man trying to romance me. Yet other information corroborated Walter's story. Moreover, Walter became instrumental in helping save North Carolina's case from being dismissed when the initial plaintiff became too scared to file anymore papers (or was bribed).
The North Carolina case was filed in May, 1999. I had 120 days in which to serve the Defendants. Given the complexity of this litigation, I wasn't ready, so I moved for more time. The magistrate denied the motion. I sent an appeal for the district judge to review the magistrate's decision, but the plaintiff didn't file the appeal. The district judge upheld the magistrate's decision but gave me until November 16, 1999. I sent more papers to the plaintiff. By November 14, she was still giving me excuses why she didn't mail the papers, even though I had paid for the postage.
Walter and I were up late on Sunday night, November 14. The class action lawsuit proposed that Whites, as well as Blacks, were hurt by crack cocaine. Would a White person do? I told him "Yes!" We wanted David, but neither of us could get into the federal prison in time for him to sign the documents. So Walter found Shelly England Lucas, his father-in-law, affectionately nicknamed "Hucklebuck". To a Yankee from Detroit, I felt as if I had gone as deep into the backwoods of the South as I could go. Yet a sweet, elderly Dixiecrat may save the case in North Carolina. Thanks to Hucklebuck and Walter, the Defendants were served on November 15, 1999.
Before calling Walter again on November 14, 1999, I asked myself why I was doing all this. I didn't know anyone in North Carolina. The case was expensive and time-consuming. The plaintiffs can't afford to pay me. As a solo practitioner, sometimes my paying clients would be unable to come through, hence the only income I had was from child support. When the child support ran out, my mother would send help from Detroit. My son and I made many sacrifices, yet it seemed almost everyone I could reach by long-distance telephone calls was scared. On November 14, 1999, it seemed cost-effective to give up on North Carolina, but later, David gave me some encouragement. In the federal prison there, many Black men with long sentences were on the verge of exploding. They wanted to retaliate against the closest Whites available. David said my efforts have given the inmates hope and may have saved him from becoming a victim in a race riot. More than simply receiving financial compensation from the lawsuits, the drug offenders in North Carolina are hoping their sentences will be shortened. If only because God loves North Carolina, the drama Walter and I went through on November 14, 1999 was worth the trouble after all.
On November 30, 1999, the clerk for the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation named the proposed consolidated lawsuits "The Nicaraguan Contras/Narcotics Trafficking Cases".
P.S. While at the post office mailing this article, I retrieved from my P.O. box the Order from the Multi-District Litigation Panel. The cases are being consolidated and transferred to Florida in front of Judge Maurice M. Paul, a Reagan appointee who disfavors this cause. Please help me mobilize public awareness of this issue. Contact me at telephone (352) 338-1490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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