COCAINE CONNECTIONS II
In the Dec. 12, 1988, issue, SI reported that NFL investigators had ignored evidence that Miami Dolphin wide receiver Mark Duper had consorted with drug dealers as far back as 1986. Two months later, the league still seems slow to follow up on leads. SI has been told by a Fort Lauderdale attorney that two weeks ago an NFL investigator showed little interest in information offered by the lawyer regarding cocaine use in the league.
The attorney, former Florida Assistant State Attorney Herbert M. Cohen, represents Ricky Arroyo, 29, who has admitted to selling cocaine and has told of using coke with both Duper and another Dolphin, All-Pro wide receiver Mark Clayton. "We tried to tell the league our story," Cohen told SI's Robert Sullivan. "A couple days before the Super Bowl, I was talking to John Bellizzi [executive director of the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association], and he said I should tell [ NFL assistant security director] Charlie Jackson what I knew. I agreed." Bellizzi went to Jackson, and according to Bellizzi, "[Jackson's] reaction appeared to be 'no interest.' He said he'd get back to me but didn't. I was surprised. They should have jumped at it."
NFL spokesman Joe Browne responds, "It was literally days before the Super Bowl, and we weren't going to drop everything to speak to him. We would be interested in speaking to him on our time schedule."
Until his arrest last March on cocaine-trafficking charges, Arroyo was a driver for Super Duper Limo, Duper's limousine service. Arroyo has told SI he took cocaine with Duper and Clayton for the first time in 1983 and describes both players as "big users." He has given the Florida State Attorney's office a written statement, obtained by SI, in which he says that he supplied Duper with cocaine "frequently" (Arroyo says he provided Duper with 3� to seven grams of cocaine, $125 to $250 worth, at least once a week) for three months, beginning in December '87. Arroyo's statement further declares that he shared cocaine with Clayton "on 2 or 3 occasions." On one of those occasions, Arroyo has told SI, Clayton offered him "a couple of lines of coke" while Arroyo drove Clayton around in a Super Duper limo.
Two other sources told SI's Armen Keteyian they saw Clayton using cocaine three years ago at convicted cocaine dealer Nelson Aguilar's Miami apartment. One of the sources says he used cocaine with Clayton at least twice and that "people have seen him tooting in Manhattan's [a Miami nightclub]."
Just as troubling as the accusations of illicit drug use is the company that Clayton and Duper apparently kept. Police told SI's Martin F. Dardis that both Clayton and Duper were shown socializing with drug dealers, including Aguilar, in photos confiscated during a 1986 bust. Arroyo says that Duper's "best friend" until early last year was Herman Williams, who was arrested with Arroyo for allegedly agreeing to buy more than $100,000 worth of cocaine from an undercover officer and who, like Arroyo, is awaiting trial. And one of Duper's business partners, Eddie Purifoye, was convicted in 1984 for carrying a concealed .357 revolver.
Arroyo, who is cooperating with authorities, has told SI that since his arrest he has twice talked to Clayton. "Once at Monty Trainer's [a marina and restaurant] I saw him and he said, 'Hey! Got anything for the head?' " says Arroyo. "Another time, it was either before the Minnesota or Chicago game this past season. He called and said, 'Can you get me something?' Both times I got him the drugs—that second time, four or five grams, a big piece. I didn't charge him, just gave it to him." Clayton, like Duper, denies ever using cocaine or associating with drug dealers.
The NFL cites its suspension of Duper (reportedly for skipping a drug test) and two dozen other players this past season for alleged violations of its drug policy as evidence that it's trying to combat drug use. But the league appears to be relying almost exclusively on its drug-testing program—which it admits is limited—to identify players who may be using illegal substances. Meanwhile, its investigators seem to be in no hurry to pursue solid leads. Could it be that the NFL brass is afraid of hearing even more bad news?
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