Former drug kingpin "Freeway" Rick Ross found himself once again in police custody last week after being arrested on suspicion of possessing drug money. But he says the incident was nothing more than another instance of racial profiling.
Ross (not to be confused with the MMG rapper Rick Ross) was arrested last Thursday in California's Sonoma County, although details of his arrest were not immediately available due to an ongoing investigation. It is known that Ross had more than $100,000 on him when he was cuffed.
Ross is known as one of the most notorious drug dealers of the 20th century, setting up shop in Los Angeles during the 1980s and collecting more than $600 million. He was convicted in 1996 for selling cocaine to a police informant and later released in 2009.
Ross, 55, is now an author and motivational speaker.
In an interview with SFGate on Monday, Ross explained his side of the story, claiming he was picked out of a group of "20 to 30 other cars" on Highway 101 as they drove past a sheriff's vehicle on the side of the road.
"I looked at him, he looked at me, and then he just started following me for probably about 2 miles," Ross said. He stated that as he exited the freeway, the officer turned on his sirens and pulled Ross over.
The officer asked Ross to get out of the car, to which he refused and handed over his license and registration. Ross said he also declined the officer's request to search the car.
"He said, 'You sound like a guilty person,' and told me he was going to search it anyway," Ross continued. "He asked me if I had any drugs, and I said no. Then he asked me if I had any money, and I told him it was none of his business."
The officer told Ross he was being pulled over for an erratic lane change. A drug-sniffing dog circled the car and the officer said the dog smelled marijuana, which gave him probable cause to search the vehicle. No drugs were found, although the large sum of money was discovered, which Ross said was for the purchase of property.
Ross was arrested "on suspicion of possessing money related to the sale of a controlled substance" and later released, although the charges have stuck. He is due back in court for arraignment in December.
"I knew from the beginning that the charges against me were trumped up," Ross said. "But it's crazy to me that people are still getting pulled over in this day and age and in this political climate just for being black. I was one of a bunch of cars on that freeway. We were all going the same speed doing the same thing, but I'm the one that gets pulled over."
A spokeswoman for the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says Ross' claim of racial profiling is "completely unsubstantiated."