The Minneapolis Connection: 137 Pounds of L.A. Coke and the MPD

The LA Weekly unwinds a weird tale of drug deals, real estate powerbrokers, and the long tentacles of political influence

What do Hillary Clinton's brother, a major cocaine takedown, and a Los Angeles real estate powerbroker have to do with the Minneapolis Police Department? The tangled answer to that question is the substance of an extensively reported article by Jeffrey Anderson in May 27's LA Weekly. And some of the most candid insights come from the MPD's Tony Adams and Gerry Wehr, who openly discuss a 10-year-old case that continues to elude them.

The story can't easily be boiled down to Law & Order-length, but here's the gist: Back in 1994, Carlos Vignali became a suspect in a huge drug deal here, after officers Adams and Wehr received wiretap intelligence identifying him as a West Coast supplier to coke dealers in Minneapolis. Vignali's father, Horacio, is a real estate profiteer with incredible political connections (not least of which is to Hugh Rodham, the brother of the former first lady and current junior senator from New York).

The two Minneapolis cops spent four days in L.A. doing surveillance, and immediately got the feeling that they'd stumbled onto something bigger--a major international drug ring with influence in L.A.'s City Hall. But Adams, Wehr, and local prosecutors ran into curious obstacles while trying to expand the case. Carlos Vignali ultimately went to prison in 1995, but received a Bubba pardon as the departing Clinton cleaned out his desk in 2001.

The story starts on a spooky note, with Adams and Wehr in the thick of their investigation:

 

Tony Adams and his partner, Gerry Wehr, smelled something fishy when they arrived in Los Angeles back in 1994 to arrest Carlos Vignali, the target of one of Minnesota's biggest drug cases. The Minneapolis narcotics officers had caught the 22-year-old Vignali on a wiretap conspiring to distribute crack cocaine in the Twin Cities. They checked into the Hilton on Grand Avenue under names known only to their local contacts at the DEA.

Within hours, they say, they received a call from defense lawyer Anthony Brooklier, who represented an alleged associate of Vignali. Strangely aware of how to contact the visiting officers, Brooklier, a high-paid mouthpiece for celebrities and accused gangsters, wanted to know what the officers were up to.

 

What's most notable--and surprising--is how positively Anderson portrays our local law enforcement and prosecutors. We may grouse about the boys in blue, but apparently nothing could be more corrupt than the political machinations of Los Angeles and its police department.

 
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