The Career of the big cocaine smuggler Adler Berriman Seal started in the late '70s with small quantities of marijuana, arriving to cooperate in the early '80s with the Medellin Cartel. After being arrested and sentenced to 10 years of prison he began to cooperate with DEA as an informant.
In June 1994 in an article titled "Mysterious Mena" The Wall Street Journal reported about possible undercover activities run in the second half of the '80s by both CIA and DEA in the Arkansas regional Intermountain Airport of Mena. What was happening was that the civil pilot Adler Berriman Seal was smuggling cocaine from Colombia and that he choose Mena Airport as a base for his business.
Together with this illegal activity, Barry was regularly traveling in Nicaragua since 1984 for the CIA to shoot some aircraft photographs to Sandinista groups involved in the cocaine business.
The WSJ also published compromising photos of Medellin Cartel and Nicaragua Interior minister carrying cocaine on Barry's aircraft.
Also, the article speculates about the military training of Contras in that same period in a place near Mena airport owned by the boss of the Rich Mountain Aviation, Fred L.Hampton.
Apparently, the activity run by Barry was more complex, involving the transport of both drugs and Contras in US landing flights and weapons on flights directed to Nicaragua.
The former marine ad ex FBI agent Del Hahn in his "Smuggler's end" wrote about a memorandum sent by the FBI agent Tom Ross, from Little Rock FBI office, to his supervisor Ronald Kelly dated July 19, 1984. In the report, Ross was requesting approval for an undercover operation directed against Fred L. Hampton and Rich Mountain Aviation. Ross concluded writing that " it was proof that "the FBI in Louisiana, feeling they were being stonewalled and kept in the dark by their own", decided to conduct a sting".
The fact is that it was Ross who was starting an operation at Mena, and so it was him to conduct the undercover op and not the FBI in Louisiana. What Ross knew very well and that also cited in the memorandum was that Hampton and Evans, another suspect connected to Mena airport, had been both investigated in the past by the DEA and the Arkansas State Police. Allegations against them involved their responsibility in changing N numbers and aircrafts modification to make difficult to identify which of them were taking part in the smuggling activity.
In the document, Ross also referred to a conference taken at Hot Spring with both DEA and FBI from Little Rock, and Polk County Sheriff A.L.Hadeway, in which was decided an FBI /DEA undercover investigation against Hampton, Evans and the Mena airport.
It was then that came out that both DEA and the Arkansas State Police had an informant at the Mena airport, regularly reporting to them.
While there's no evidence of training activities connected with Contras undertaken by CIA at Mena, it's largely accepted that Seal starts smuggling first small quantities of marijuana and then cocaine since1976. Between 1980 and 1984 Seal started to cooperate with Pablo Escobar and the Ochoa brother from the Medellin Cartel, transporting large quantities of cocaine from Colombia and Panama to the US. In this period he moves his head- quarter from Louisiana to Mena, Arkansas.
In 1984 Barry was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison unless he made a deal with the DEA, starting to cooperate as an informant.
On February 19, 1986 Seal was shot dead in Baton Rouge by killers hired by Ochoa brothers, while he was working at the Salvation Army facility as an alternative conviction to prison. (cm)
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