Pubdate: Sun, 10 Sep 2000
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX) 
Copyright: 2000 Corpus Christi Caller-Times 
Address: P.O. Box 9136, Corpus Christi, TX 78469-9136 
Website: Caller-Times
Author: C. Bryson Hull


Colombia cartel paid Adler 'Barry' Seal a reported $1 million for each 
flight By C. Bryson Hull Associated Press   

HOUSTON - The state of Texas flies a plane that earned its wings at the 
hands of famed drug smuggler, government operative and eventual 
assassination victim Adler "Barry" Seal.  

State officials have flown aboard N6308F, an 18-year-old twin turboprop 
that seats up to 10, on official business since Texas bought the plane 
in 1990. The Beech King Air is one of 53 in the state's fleet.  

Gov. George W. Bush took office five years after the plane became Texas 
property and was unaware of its history. "We're glad to hear that the 
plane is on the straight and narrow and has landed on the right side of 
the law," Bush spokeswoman Linda Edwards said.  

Airborne Smuggling  

Seal leased the N6308F seven years before Texas brought it to ferry 
government officials, according to an Associated Press comparison of 
Federal Aviation Administration records with insurance and leasing 

In the early '80s, Seal was a top DEA informant by dint of his work as 
airborne smuggler for Colombia's Medellin cartel. He earned a reported 
$1 million a flight, hauling guns south and drugs north.  

Seal, a former member of the Army's special forces and a one-time Trans 
World Airlines pilot, leased and operated the plane for at least a 
year, beginning on March 21, 1983, according to a leasing document.  

B. Don Wineinger, who handled the insurance policies for Seal while 
working for a Kansas insurance firm, verified his signature on the 
documents and authenticated the lease.  

Many Owners  

The plane's owner at the time is unclear. Leasing records show the 
lessor as Continental Desert Properties Inc., a California real estate 
firm. But FAA title records show the owner to be Systems Marketing 
Inc., a now-defunct Arizona computer leasing business.  

Continental Desert Properties owner Gene Glick has since died. The 
former owner of Systems Marketing was unavailable for comment.  

N6308F passed through five other owners before it came to the state, 
but belonged for most of the time to a Utah Chevrolet dealer named 
Merrill Bean. Of the other owners, three were aircraft brokers and one 
was a leasing subsidiary of Greyhound Bus Lines called Greycas Inc. 
None, save Bean, owned the plane for more than 30 days.  

Violent Death  

The State of Texas Aircraft Pooling Board, which owns a fleet for use 
on official state business, purchased N6308F in May 1990 from Gantt 
Aviation, a Georgetown airplane broker.  

Seal, 46, was machine-gunned to death in the parking lot of a Baton 
Rouge, La., halfway house on Feb. 19, 1986. Three Colombians were 
sentenced to life in prison for the killing, which occurred shortly 
before Seal was to testify in the Miami drug trial of Jorge Ochoa, a 
top Medellin cartel lieutenant.  

Medellin leader Pablo Escobar and Ochoa had offered $500,000 to have 
Seal killed and $1 million to have him brought back alive to Colombia, 
according to testimony at the trial.  

Iran-Contra Connection  

This is not the first time one of Seal's planes resurfaced in an 
unlikely place.  

In 1984, Seal flew his C-123K military transport plane, dubbed "The Fat 
Lady," to Nicaragua on an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration 
sting operation.  

Using hidden cameras installed on the plane by the CIA, Seal snapped 
photos showing him taking bags of cocaine from Escobar and a corrupt 
Sandinista government official.  

President Reagan later used the photos during a nationally televised 
plea for support for the Contras.  

But the plane that bore those public-relations fruits eventually gave 
Reagan fits.  

"The Fat Lady" was shot down over Nicaragua in October 1986 while 
carrying a load of weapons bound for the Contras. That crash and the 
Sandinistas' capture of the sole survivor, CIA operative Eugene 
Hasenfus, led to the unmasking of the Iran-Contra scandal.  
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MAP posted-by: John Chase