1997-06-03, Russell Welch: Re Mena Airport

Date: Tue, 03 Jun 1997 20:42:36 -0500
To: ciadrugs@mars.galstar.com (The ciadrugs mailing list)
From: lar-jen@interaccess.com (Larry-Jennie)
Subject: ciadrugs] Re: Mena Airport: Welch wants to clear up the Plea Agreements

Dave Wiesner wrote:
>> 1) Should I conclude from your answer that you have no specific
>> knowledge of any link between the trouble Mr. Russell and Mr.
>> Welch experienced in their investigations and the agreement Barry
>> Seal had with the government immunizing him from prosecution?

Bear Bottoms wrote:
>Well not really. If you look closely at the transcripts of the interview
>Welch and Duncan did in December of 1985, you will see two
>things. Seal was not certain his agreements with the Feds
>protected him in Arkansas, and that question was cleared up
>that it probably did. The biggest question was whether it
>protected Hampton, Evans, and others. The agreement that
>Seal had that none of his subordinates would be proscuted
>seemed to be less apparent in documentation, though I was
>present when that deal was struck. There were tape recordings
>made of these agreements and done so in the presence of
>US Attorney's, agents, and lawyers. The ultimate fact is that
>Seal had an agreement that prevented prosecution from admitted
>crimes of him and his subordinates. Admitted is a key word.
>The technicalities of legal mumbo jumbo leaves loopholes
>everywhere. I do know that the level that Seal was cooperating
>on had many high level DOJ and government people interested
>in maintaining his cooperation, while there were those in Louisiana
>and Arkansas that didn't care. The legal system is a fractured
>mess of kingdoms which does not cooperate with each other or
>always respect each others wishes.

Date: Tue, 03 Jun 1997 19:50:30 -0500
From: Russell Welch <truegrit@worldnet.att.net>
Reply-To: truegrit@worldnet.att.net
To: Larry-Jennie <lar-jen@interaccess.com>
Subject: Plea Agreement

Let me clear something up, concerning a recent post by Billy Bottoms, concerning Barry Seal's plea agreements. Barry Seal had three plea agreements from three different federal jurisdictions, including Louisiana. I have copies of all three agreements. Nothing is mentioned in there about anybody else in Seal's organization. USA [scil. U.S. Attorney - ed.] Asa Hutchinson, from the Western District of Arkansas, checked with the Justice Department, the USA's office in Florida, and the USA's office in Louisiana. They all stated, clearly, that Barry Seal was the only person protected by the agreements. I had already been investigating. These inquiries were made before the FGJ [scil. Federal Grand Jury - ed.] took any official action. Nobody was looking for "loop holes." We all had other things to do if all of Seal's smuggling associates were, in fact, protected by an agreement. The normal procedure, to insure that your snitch is protected, is to let other agencies know. If that's not possible because of an ongoing investigation, at least do it after the investigation. If you don't notify other agencies, you can't blame them for going after your snitch, if he is involved in illegal activity. Ken Kennedy told me, face to face, at the DEA office in Miami, that nobody in Arkansas was protected by Seal's plea agreement. He even told me that if Seal had done anything in Arkansas, I could arrest him, too. He said that Seal didn't have an operation in Arkansas. If that's what Seal told Kennedy, then Seal violated the terms of his plea agreement. Nobody has ever stated to me, other than Bottoms, that Seal's co-conspirators were protected by his agreement. During Seal's interview, by me and Duncan, Seal never even made a suggestion that anybody in Arkansas was protected by the agreement. Seal was only concerned about his own vulnerability in Arkansas. Make no mistake about it, Seal was vulnerable in Arkansas. Seal could have been arrested by me in Arkansas and he knew it. Read the transcript, as Bottoms, said. All we agreed upon, prior to the interview, was that I would not arrest him. If Seal thought that anybody else in his group was protected, he would have said so at that time. It was clear that our targets were his co-conspirators in Arkansas.

After Seal's death, USA Mike Fitzhugh, continued to give the appearance that he was conducting a grand jury investigation of Seal's co-conspirators. During this time he had a continuing dialogue with the Justice Department and USA's in Florida and Louisiana. Nobody ever said, NOT ONE TIME, "Hey, these people are protected under a plea agreement. Why are you investigating?" Freddie Hampton and Joe Evans never even made that claim, nor did their attorney, John Wesley Hall, Jr., who was being paid by Seal. Bottoms told me that there was a verbal agreement. During all my years in law enforcement, I never heard of a verbal plea agreement. How can you enforce a verbal plea agreement? If govenment officials told Seal that they were making a verbal plea agreement, they lied. The fact is that, either way, Seal never said anything about it. Channel 5, in Fort Smith, did an award winning series on the Mena Airport. Reporter, Teresa Dickey, interviewed two friends of AUSA Steve Snyder, who told her that Snyder told them that the USA's office in the Western District of Arkansas had received a call telling them to interfere with the Mena Airport investigation. They told Dickie that, according to Snyder, the telephone call had not come from the Justice Department. If this had been a legitimate call, concerning a legitimate plea agreement, the investigation would have been over, and Duncan and I would have been on our happy way.

When I started the Mena Airport investigation, concerning Seal, I was looking for a reason to get out of it. I expected to find that there was so much government complicity that I could close my case file. That was not the case. I found illegal activity that was not protected by any agreements or any covert operations. I investigated crimes. I didn't look for loop holes. Lawyers look for loop holes.

If Bottoms continues to assert that I was using "loop holes" in order to conduct an investigation, I'll provide documentation and more examples.

You have my permission to post this.

Russell Welch

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