Barry Seal : biography
Adler Berriman Seal (July 16, 1939 – February 19, 1986), better known as Barry Seal, was a United States drug smuggler and aircraft pilot who flew covert flights for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Medellín Cartel.
In order to avoid a long prison sentence, Seal contacted law enforcement authorities. He was turned down initially by local prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), agents in Miami. He flew to Washington D.C. and contacted agents in the Vice President's drug task force. After some deliberation, they decided to use Seal as a high-level informant against the Medellín Cartel.
According to the Frontline Godfather of Cocaine Investigation, Enrest "Jake" Jacobson was Seal's DEA handler during this period. Jacobson claims he still has the high-tech message encrypter which Seal gave him. In order to mitigate his 1984 arrest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for money laundering and Quaalude smuggling, he agreed to testify against his former employers and associates in the drug trade, putting several of them in jail. Among those Seal testified against were Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands Norman Saunders and members of the Medellín Cartel. Seal also testified before the President's Commission on Organized Crime in October 1985.
Using a concealed camera installed by the CIA, Seal took pictures during the Nicaragua sting operation that clearly showed Pablo Escobar, Jorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez, and other members the medellin Cartel loading kilos of cocaine on to a C-123 transport plane. Also Frederico Vaughan, an associate of Tomas Borges of the Interior Ministry of Nicaragua was photographed with Sandanista Soldiers helping load the plane.
Seal was both a smuggler and an informant for DEA in this sting operation against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In 1984 Seal flew from Nicaragua to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida with a shipment of cocaine that had been allegedly brokered through the Sandinista government. This cocaine was seized by the DEA, and was never received by the cartel's distribution handlers in Florida, which immediately caused suspicion in Medellín pointing to Barry Seal as the person responsible for this lost shipment.
A story appeared in the Washington Times in 1984 describing the infiltration of the Medellín cartel's operations in Panama and Nicaragua. The alleged purpose was to prove the Nicaraguan Sandinistas' involvement in the drug trade and to build support for the Contra war effort. This leak and subsequent controversy eventually led to the Iran Contra Affair which unraveled a year later.
The The Wall Street Journal also printed the story. The media coverage indirectly exposed Seal's involvement in the operation. Also the articles exposed Colombian cartel leaders and a Nicaraguan Interior Minister who were photographed moving cocaine onto an aircraft. Despite these pressures, Seal went ahead and testified the pictures taken during the trip showed Sandinista officials in NIcaragua brokering a cocaine deal with members of Colombia's Medellín Cartel, One month after Seal's death on March 16, 1986, President Reagan showed one of the photographs Seal took on national television, to bolster Congressional support for the Contras, He suggested that a top ranking Sandinista official was involved in drug smuggling.
DEA officials in Washington denied the claim a few days later, pointing out that the Nicaraguan was a local fixer. Regardless, the publicity accorded the sting, combined with Seal's assassination, led to years of speculation that the smuggler had close ties to the CIA.
As part of his plea agreement, Seal was ordered to a halfway house in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. where he was murdered by hired Colombian assassins for the Medellin Cartel.
Seal was portrayed by Dennis Hopper in the 1991 docudrama Doublecrossed.
Seal was later linked through a dated photograph to Operation 40, a covert CIA operation. He also joined US Army Special Forces to continue flight training. In 1966, Seal went to work for TWA as a flight engineer and later became the youngest 747 pilot in the nation. He flew transcontinental flights for TWA until he was fired after he agreed to fly plastic explosives from Miami to Mexico for an anti-Castro group. The buyer turned out to be a Federal Agent and he was arrested. He lost his job with TWA and became a private aviation consultant for groups in Latin America, which led to a career in drug trafficking.
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