In the second story on June 26th, part of a three-day Mena series in the ARKANSAS GAZETTE,
In the second story on June 26th, part of a three-day Mena series in the
ARKANSAS GAZETTE, allegations by Eugene Wheaton from a sworn
deposition charged that Barry Seal's gun and drug smuggling ran with
impunity because of the consent of the DEA and CIA and that he
supported the Contra war effort with training facilities and gun-running.
Wheaton was a former Marine and former Air Force and Army
criminal investigator who served as narcotics adviser and security
consultant to the late Shah of Iran and later worked for corporations in
the Middle East and elsewhere.
"Deposition summarizes rumors about Seal"
THE ARKANSAS GAZETTE
June 26, 1988
The allegations contained in the sworn deposition of Eugene
Wheaton summarize most of the rumors about Barry Seal at Mena.
Wheaton said Seal took part in an alleged "secret" effort to use
profits from drug smuggling to buy and deliver guns to the contra
rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Wheaton's story, which has yet to be proven, includes allegations
hat Seal played a part in:
Drug smuggling and gun running with the consent of the federal Drug
Enforcement Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Clandestine pilot training at a grass airstrip near the Nella
community in southern Scott County.
Commando training of "Latins" near the airstrip by CIA veterans of
the war in Southeast Asia.
Many allegations doubted
Investigators have expressed doubt about many of Wheaton's
allegations. Other assertions by Wheaton, they said, fall in line
with leads they are following. The investigators spoke on the
condition that they not be identified because the case is still being
Efforts to interview Wheaton through the Christic Institute over
the course of more than a month were unsuccessful.
Wheaton said in the Christic Institute deposition in March that
he is a former Marine and former Air Force and Army criminal
investigator who served as narcotics adviser and security consultant
to the late Shah of Iran and later worked for corporations in the
Middle East and elsewhere.
Moved to Mena in '82
Wheaton said Seal moved his drug-smuggling operation to Mena in
1982. After Seal became a government informant in 1984, Wheaton
said, he began "flying missions out of Florida into Central America
hauling weapons down and drugs back under the control of the DEA and
Wheaton said Seal was "directed by agents of the government" to
move from Baton Rouge to Mena and to continue his smuggling as a
cover for his DEA and CIA undercover work.
"In other words, they said if he would go to Arkansas, continue
what he was doing he would, if not be protected, he would be
ignored by federal agencies while he continued his covert help to the
government in Florida," Wheaton said.
Wheaton said Seal made Fred L. Hampton, the owner of Rich
Mountain Aviation at the Mena Airport, his associate and was himself
a financial supporter of Hampton's company.
Hampton said last week, however, that Seal "was strictly a
customer." Hampton said the company had performed maintenance on
"six or eight" of Seal's planes between 1981 and 1986.
He said Seal had paid cash for the work and was charged the same
rates as other customers. Hampton said Seal was slow to pay his
bills and owed the company $13,000 when he died.
Wheaton also said Seal brought "at least one large load of
cocaine" into the Mena Airport and that Hampton had transported it to
Louisiana. Hampton said he had "never seen any cocaine in my life."
Bought plot of land
Wheaton said Seal bought an isolated plot of land in the Ouachita
National Forest near the Nella community in Scott County through
Scott County tax records show that Hampton bought the land in
November 1982 and that he sold it to his father, Fred V. Hampton Sr.,
in January 1986.
Seal and Hampton then built a 2,000-foot, dirt airstrip on the
land in the National Forest, Wheaton said. The airstrip later became
a base for training pilots for night takeoffs and landings at
unimproved airstrips using special night vision and video equipment,
At the same time, Wheaton said, "a covert paramilitary commando
training operation" began and continued until late 1987.
Hampton said he bought the land as "an investment" and for
recreation. He said he and others had landed on the airstrip in
small, single-engine planes "on two or three occasions." He said he
had planned to build a house on the land but never did.
"The speculation is that the land was used for a private
smuggling operation and that it had something to do with the
Iran-contra affair," Hampton said. "That's totally ludicrous."
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