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The Mena File: Barry Seal's Ties to Drug Lords and U.S. Officials
by Mara Leveritt
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, 2016
eISBN: 978-1-935106-94-4 | Paper: 978-1-935106-93-7

In 1986, Barry Seal—pilot, smuggler, and federal informant—was gunned down when he appeared at the time and place a federal judge had ordered him to. His assassination was blamed on members of a Colombian drug cartel intent on keeping him quiet. But questions about Seal’s relationships with drug cartels as well as high-ranking American officials have mounted since his death, inspiring conspiracy theories, books, and Hollywood thrillers.

Inquiries into Seal’s activities, including some by congressional committees, led nowhere. Many of the police files about him were reported lost; others were almost totally redacted. Nevertheless, hundreds of records have survived regarding this backwater of the Iran-Contra saga, pointing to government complicity in Seal’s shipments of cocaine into the United States and the powerful measures taken to obscure that involvement.

In brisk and meticulously footnoted order, The Mena File guides readers from the airstrip in the mountains of rural Arkansas (where Seal based his operation) to Nicaraguan jungles and then to courtrooms across the American South, culminating in a pivotal meeting in the nation’s capital. Menace lurks throughout the tale and, just as darkly, in the evidence of how law-enforcement agents who labored to bring Seal to justice found themselves undermined—and ultimately betrayed—by elected and appointed officials.
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