48 Facts About Barry Seal


Adler Berriman "Barry" Seal was an American commercial airline pilot who became a major drug smuggler for the Medellin Cartel.


When Seal was convicted of smuggling charges, he became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and testified in several major drug trials.


Barry Seal was murdered on February 19,1986, by contract killers hired by the cartel.


Barry Seal was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of Mary Lou and Benjamin Curtis Seal, a candy wholesaler.


Barry Seal began to fly as a teenager, earning a student pilot certificate at 16 and a private pilot's certificate at 17.


In 1962, Barry Seal enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard for six years: six months of active duty, followed by five and a half years of inactive duty.


Barry Seal was assigned to the 20th Special Forces Group and graduated from the United States Army Airborne School selection and training.


In 1964, Barry Seal joined TWA as a flight engineer and was promoted to the first officer, then captain, flying a Boeing 707 on a regular Western Europe route.


Barry Seal was one of the youngest 707 command pilots in the TWA fleet.


Barry Seal admitted that he started smuggling small amounts of marijuana by air in early 1976.


Ironically, Barry Seal's operations received an important boost when he was arrested and jailed in Honduras on the return leg of a drug-smuggling trip to Ecuador.


Barry Seal made important connections while in prison in Honduras, including Emile Camp, a fellow Louisiana pilot and smuggler who became one of Barry Seal's closest associates, and Ellis McKenzie, a local Honduran smuggler.


Also, after his release from prison Barry Seal met William Roger Reaves on the flight back to the US It was Reaves who provided Barry Seal with his first connection to the Medellin cartel.


From 1980 on, Bottoms was the main pilot in Barry Seal's smuggling enterprise, often flying with Camp while Barry Seal oversaw planning and operations.


In 1981, Barry Seal began smuggling cocaine for the Medellin Cartel.


Barry Seal's smuggling method was to use low-flying planes and airdrop drug packages in remote areas of Louisiana.


The investigation into Barry Seal was part of a major undercover operation called Operation Screamer in which over 80 pilots were eventually indicted.


Barry Seal surrendered to federal authorities at the end of April 1983 and attempted to make a deal, first with the Florida task force, then with the Baton Rouge task force.


Barry Seal then pleaded guilty to the second indictment in Florida and was released with his sentence to depend on his performance as an informant.


The Florida Task Force plan called for Barry Seal to set up a cocaine purchase with the Ochoas and other cartel members, providing the basis for indictments in the US Barry Seal had previously dealt with the cartel through another associate so that they were unaware of his real name.


The plane was hit and Barry Seal had to make an emergency landing at Sandino International Airport in Managua.


In Managua, Barry Seal met again with Pablo Escobar, who was setting up a cocaine lab for production.


The plane Barry Seal acquired was a C-123K, a large aircraft used primarily for military transport.


On his return to the US, Barry Seal landed at Homestead Air Force Base and the drugs were transferred into a Winnebago camper, which Barry Seal turned over to his Colombian contact.


The drugs could not be distributed, and the immediate arrest of those handling the vehicle would suggest to the Colombians that Barry Seal had betrayed them, so DEA agents staged an accident with the camper, allowing the driver to escape.


The DEA felt this would be impossible to explain away, and Barry Seal returned to the US without cargo.


The DEA plan was to keep Barry Seal working with the cartel on other parts of the supply chain, such as moving cocaine base into Nicaragua from Colombia and inspecting smuggling airfields in Mexico and the US The ultimate hope was to arrest the cartel leaders in a jurisdiction where it would be easy to extract them.


The evidence acquired from the arrest, plus the evidence gathered by Barry Seal, provided the basis for the first drug trafficking indictment in the US against Escobar and the Ochoas.


The DEA refused to let Barry Seal leave the country due to the danger he was in, so Barry Seal arranged for his ex-brother-in-law William Bottoms to make the flight.


Barry Seal attempted to push back against the investigation by appearing in a television news series broadcast by WBRZ in Baton Rouge in November 1984.


Barry Seal was taken into federal custody in June 1985 and spent several months testifying in court.


Barry Seal made a public appearance before the President's Commission on Organized Crime, recounting his experiences as a drug smuggler.


When Barry Seal received only time served and probation, Louisiana state and federal drug investigators were faced with a dilemma.


Barry Seal warned Seal that he intended to set strict probation provisions and that if Seal violated these, the plea bargain could be revoked and Seal re-sentenced.


The probation conditions prohibited Barry Seal from leaving Baton Rouge without written permission from Judge Polozola, who ordered Barry Seal to spend every night at a halfway house from 6PM to 6AM for the first six months of his probation.


Barry Seal was assigned to the Salvation Army's Community Treatment Center in Baton Rouge.


Barry Seal was originally introduced to the Medellin cartel members as a pilot named Ellis McKenzie.


Max Mermelstein, a high-level cartel distributor in Miami, later testified in court that he was shown the documentary a few days after it was broadcast and was told that the cartel wanted Barry Seal either captured or killed: the price was $500,000 if Barry Seal was killed, and $1,000,000 if he was captured alive.


Barry Seal received a phone call from Fabio Ochoa and Escobar, who both thanked him for his help, and was given $100,000 for any costs he incurred.


Barry Seal soon told the task force about the contract, and Seal was informed that the cartel was offering $500,000 for his death.


When Barry Seal pulled into the center's lot and parked, a man got out of a car behind the center's donation drop boxes and opened fire with a suppressed MAC-10 submachine gun.


Barry Seal had seen Cardona test-fire the murder weapon in Mermelstein's garage and bullets that matched the murder weapon were later extracted from the garage wall by FBI forensics.


Barry Seal testified that Velez was present when he was given the contract and that Velez later asked Mermelstein to turn the contract over to him.


Barry Seal testified that in January 1986, he was ordered by Jorge Ochoa to kill Seal.


Barry Seal was then shot five times by cartel gunmen, but survived and eventually sought asylum at the US embassy in Bogota.


Barry Seal had six children; two from his first wife, one from a relationship he had in between marriages, and three more with Deborah.


At Guste's request, Meese launched an investigation to determine whether or not attorneys in Louisiana, Miami, and Washington had mishandled the case, and to determine whether or not Barry Seal should have been forced into protective custody.


Government attorneys stated that Barry Seal placed himself in danger by refusing to move his family and enter a witness protection program.