AKA Adler Berriman Seal
Birthplace: Baton Rouge, LA
Location of death: Baton Rouge, LA
Cause of death: Murder
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Criminal, Government
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: DEA informant, CIA contract pilot
Military service: US Army (20th Special Forces Group, 245th Engineer Battalion)
Born in Baton Rouge and raised by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Barry Seal hovered around the edges of an improbably large number of major CIA operations.
In 1952, while still a teenager, Barry Seal enlisted with the Civil Air Patrol in Baton Rouge. Shortly after joining he participated in a joint training exercise with the Patrol's New Orleans unit, where he met Lee Harvey Oswald. Seal's association with Oswald and his flight instructor David Ferrie, both known to have been involved in the assassination of JFK, make his claim to have flown the getaway plane on 22 November 1963 entirely plausible.
Seal's involvement with the CIA probably began shortly after he joined the CAP, but the first evidence dates to 1962. Seal's flight records are mysteriously blank for the period of time corresponding exactly to the CIA's Louisiana-based training of exiles and mercenaries for the second invasion of Guatemala.
Seal joined the Special Forces Reserve in late 1962 and about a month later was
photographed in a Mexico City nightclub sitting with CIA operative Porter Goss and the rest of Operation Forty, the special operation charged with assasinating Fidel Castro. On 1 May 1963, Seal was transferred to Company D of the 20th Special Forces Group, the company that was dispatched to Memphis on the same day as the assassination of Martin Luther King. When the Memphis Commercial Appeal conducted an investigation of the 20th, they found it composed of a highly unusual number of veterans of CIA assassination operations in Southeast Asia. The 20th was also said to have a domestic intelligence network run for them by the KKK.
After getting out of the Army, Seal went to work as a pilot for TWA. Fellow Operation Forty pilot Tosh Plumlee maintains that Seal moonlighted as a CIA pilot working for Ted Shackley in Laos and Vietnam, flying Special Ops missions. In 1972, Seal was arrested in New Orleans for attempting to smuggle 7 tons of C-4 to an anti-Castro group in Mexico; however, he was not fired from TWA until 1974. When his case came to trial that same year, the prosecutors introduced as evidence a gun which had nothing to do with the charges, and the judge declared a mistrial. Such a bizarre course of events led congressional investigators to suspect that Barry Seal might possibly have some sort of special relationship with the government.
Soon after being fired from TWA, Seal turned to drug smuggling as a major source of income. In December 1979 he was arrested in Guatemala with $25M worth of cocaine and imprisoned. He bribed the Guatemalan government to release him, but before he could be released, elections were held, forcing him to bribe an entirely new set of Guatemalan officials. In Sepetember 1980, he was released without being charged. While in prison, he fortuitously befriended William Roger Reeves who worked for the Medellin Drug Cartel. One year later, Reeves, as manager of the cartel's New Orleans operation, introduced Seal to Felix Bates. Seal soon began flying cocaine shipments into the US for the Columbian cartel.
By the time Seal was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale in March 1984, he had flown over 100 flights for the Medellin, bringing between $3B and $5B worth of cocaine into the United States -- perhaps more than anyone in history. He tried to cop a deal with the Florida DEA, but they declined. Rebuffed, Seal managed to contact George H.W. Bush with whom he struck a deal to testify, before the Task Force on Drugs, that the Sandinistas were complicit in the the Columbian cocaine trade. In order to exchange a ten-year sentence for six months probation, he also agreed to participate in a drug sting aimed at Pablo Escobar and other top-ranking members of the Medellin.
Seal now returned to drug-smuggling with official sanction (if indeed he hadn't had it before) in return for smuggling arms to Contras in Honduras. Seal managed to obtain several photographs of Escobar directing Nicaraguan soldiers loading 1200 kilos of cocaine onto a plane. Ronald Reagan later displayed one of the photographs on national television, denouncing the Sandanistas as "drug smugglers corrupting American youth".
Before 1984 was over, Seal would be again arrested for smuggling drugs, this time marijuana. He posted bail and once again returned to smuggling drugs. In December 1985, Seal was finally sentenced to six months supervised probation. From 6 p.m. till 6 a.m. every day, Seal was required by the terms of his probation to report to the Salvation Army halfway house in Baton Rouge. He complained of the regular schedule and spoke of being made a "clay pigeon". Within seven weeks he was dead, assassinated by a squad of Latin Americans in front of the halfway house.
Everything seemed to fit together -- a DEA informant had been targeted by the cartel he had betrayed. Yet soon after the assassination, the FBI showed up at the Louisiana State Police forensics lab and illegally seized all of Barry Seal's personal effects. When a state judge ordered the evidence returned, defense lawyers received an obviously ransacked suitcase. One thing the FBI had overlooked was a scrap of paper with VP George Bush's personal phone number. The assassins told their lawyers that once inside the US, they received directions from a US military official, later identified as Oliver North.
Father: (candy wholesaler, KKK member)
Wife: Deborah Seal
University: Louisiana State University (flunked out after one semester)
TWA Pilot (1966-74)
Arms Smuggling 7 tons of C-4 to Mexico, 1-Jul-1972
Drug Possession: Cocaine arrested in Honduras with 17 kilos, 10-Dec-1979
Money Laundering 1984
Drug Smuggling Dec-1984
Is the subject of books:
Barry & 'the Boys': The CIA, the Mob and America's Secret History, 2001, BY: Daniel Hopsicker
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