Webb, Gary 1955-2004

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WEBB, Gary 1955-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born August 31, 1955, in Corona, CA; died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound December 10, 2004, in Carmichael, CA. Journalist and author. Webb was an investigative journalist who came to be known for his reports in the San Jose Mercury News that alleged that the CIA condoned cocaine trafficking as an income source for supporting the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. After attending Northern Kentucky University for four years, he left college without graduating to accept a reporting job with the Kentucky Post in 1978. He was an investigative reporter there until 1983, when he moved to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In 1988 he joined the Mercury News. Two years later, he was part of a reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Always a champion of the underdog, Webb was concerned by the way the poor were treated by governments and corporations. This concern reached a head in 1996 when he wrote a series of stories in which he contended that the cocaine problem in American cities—most specifically, in south-central Los Angeles—was skyrocketing because the CIA encouraged drug cartels to sell drugs in America and then use the money to support the Contras. After the stories were published, however, a series of investigations into the matter by the government and police turned up no evidence for Webb's accusations. The Mercury News issued a public apology, and Webb was given a less-prestigious reporting assignment. The next year, he quit the paper, and in 1999 he published his book, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. Webb spent his time after leaving journalism as a researcher for legislative committees, including for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which investigated California Governor Gray Davis when Davis allegedly awarded a government contract without taking other bids; he also worked on another committee for which he wrote a report accusing California Highway Patrol officers of racial profiling. In addition, Webb wrote articles on a freelance basis to other periodicals, such as L.A. Weekly and the Sacramento News & Review.



Chicago Tribune, December 13, 2004, section 4, p. 8.

Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2004, p. B17.

New York Times, December 13, 2004, p. A27.

Washington Post, December 13, 2004, p. B5.