Major Medellin and Cali Cartel Pilot and Barry Seal Employer Publishes Memoirs


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Roger Reaves was central to the Medellin and Cali Cartel transportation system and has a lot to say about who was doing what to whom.

There are many historical facts contained within the book. Roger was the first to land at the Nicaraguan airbase that Barry Seal ultimately used to ensnare Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa. Roger talks about the Sandinista's being involved in the drug trade. Roger was also present at the meeting that started the Medellin Cartel - a party held on the West coast of Colombia.

James Cameron expressed an interest in the book for a movie deal in 2008. His representative stated that they should be informed when the book came out - it has taken a further 8 years for this to happen. Don't ask why. Thats another book in itself. Roger is being held in Acacia prison, Perth, Western Australia. He is serving a sentence of 18 to life for the importation of one ton of cocaine into Australia

It's a great read.

15 years coming.

Many interesting tidbits about the trade - especially Mena, Arkansas. Hillary and Bill will not like what Roger has to say - especially the $50,000 per week he was paying through Barry Seal for the landing rights there - "All the way to the top".

Please, order your copy of the book, spread the word to your friends on Facebook and write a review on Amazon!

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Today is January 26, 2016, my birthday. I am seventy three years old. I’m serving a life sentence in Australia for importing cocaine. I read a lovely card from my wife, seems everyone else forgot. I also received a warrant for my arrest in the United States, stating that U.S. marshals are to arrest me and take me to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles for a parole violation. I owe them seven-thousand nine hundred and thirty-five days, or twenty-one years, nine months, for the possession of two hundred kilos of marijuana in 1976, thirty-seven years ago. I have served fifteen years of a non-parole period of eighteen years. In three years I go up for parole, I have never seen a lifer get parole on the first application; they always say ‘come back in three years'.

I was probably the most prolific smuggler of the last century, flying in well over a hundred loads of marijuana, hashish and cocaine into the United States, plus sailing twenty-ton shiploads from Pakistan to Thailand. I made untold millions and lived a life few can believe; and I have paid dearly, with interest, for the privilege. This begins the twenty-eighth year, out of the last thirty four, that I have been in prison for non-violent drug offences. I don’t consider myself much of a criminal. I don’t lie, cheat or steal and I always take up for the underdog. Violence makes me sick. Yet I know I am an outlaw and those that break the law must be punished. We can’t live in a lawless society, but why change the laws so drastically? Before Ronald Regan the maximum sentence for marijuana was five years in prison. My crimes pale next to those of presidents in office.

Real crime? The Clintons were up to their eyeballs in cocaine. You can search the internet for “Mena Arkansas” the full story. George W. and his brother Jeb, who was governor of Florida, stole the election from Al Gore by not allowing the citizens of Broward County Florida’s votes to be counted. Then he and Dick Cheney went after the oil in Iraq using “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, a blatant lie, to bomb everything in Baghdad except the oil ministry. Two hundred thousand were killed and countless maimed. Ruthless politicians, bought by big business, voted to ship millions of American jobs to China. Congressmen are bribed to vote against clean energy. Cheap land mines are manufactured in the United States and sold to impoverished countries in the third world where children are killed, mutilated and blinded every day. Yes, my crimes pale next to these scoundrels.

When I received the life sentence in Australia I was in a special housing unit, a maximum-security jail within a maximum-security prison, a bad place, reserved for the worst of the worst. I knew that I would never go home, never again dance with my lovely wife or sit with my family around the dining table and bounce my grandchildren on my knee. I had already been in prison so long that my children hardly knew me, and my grandchildren never would. I thought of my own grandfather who had served time a hundred years ago in Reedsville, a maximum-security prison in Georgia. I thought how wonderful it would be if I could read about his life, of where he grew up, who he loved and why he killed a man in the courtroom. With that, I decided to tell my story.

At night I would lie on my bunk and as I thought something was interesting I would write it on a scrap of paper. The next morning I would take it to the computer room, a small glassed in room directly in front of the control box. Guards would keep watch through a one way mirror. I knew how to type, but how do I turn the computer on? There wasn’t a program on it, so I typed a continuous line that must have gone on for miles. Sometimes tears streamed down my face as I remembered events from my life and got them down. Often, another prisoner would turn off the electricity at the breaker box and I would lose what I had written for the last ten minutes. It was difficult, but after three months the stories were told.

Two years later I was able to enter it into a Word format and was surprised to learn there were over a thousand pages. I bound all that and sent ten copies to my family and began cutting. I cut out the stories where I was not directly involved, or anything I was not sure of. I wrote the truth as best I remembered. I left nothing out though I've changed a few names to protect the guilty. Statute of limitations means the law will not be bothering friends and associates though the law of karma may.

You may ask, ‘What did you learn?’ I have learned that it wasn’t worth all these years in prison, that you cannot trust your fellow man when he is facing a long prison term and the prosecutors tell him he will go free if he tells on his friend. I learned to read men like you read a book. Give me one minute with someone and allow me to hear the sound of his voice and I know volumes. But most of all I learned that love is the essence of happiness in this life; that the love of just one person can lift you from the deepest despair and make life worth living.

Regrets? Of course there are many. I regret that I did not apply myself when I was in school. I would have liked to have been a medical doctor helping the poor and sick. I regret all the nights I have been away from my dear wife. We were married fifty two years ago and I have been in prison for half of that time. She has waited all these years for me to return and it breaks my heart that I cannot go to her. I regret that my children never really got to know me, the true Daddy that I am in my heart, and the happy farm boy that lives within.

By reading the first part of this book you will get to know me and realize how easy it is for a good man to go astray and end up in places, maybe he just shouldn't be. With that in mind, some say a man's destiny is 'written' and free choice is an illusion. Some say life is all about choice, in which case, I wish I'd made different ones.

The second part of my book tells of high adventure, of numerous escapes from serious injury and death and comedic routines out of a Laurel and Hardy episode. Of time spent in fantastic isolation in the most beautiful landscapes imaginable and of time spent with family, sailing the high seas and landing at exotic island ports; to flying my personal aircraft over the Arctic Circle and the South American jungle. I've lived a life.

You can see me on YouTube on National Geographic’s documentary “Australia’s Hardest Prison.” I still run five miles a day.

I hope you enjoy my story.



I had a taxi waiting at the curb while I paced around the laundry as the clothes were collected. On the way to the airport the taxi driver drove slowly with the flow so I offered him a hundred dollars to make a dash for the airport. He began blowing his horn but the speed remained about the same. When I got to the gate the 727 was taxiing out. I ran on through the gate and out onto the apron with a big pile of clothes in plastic draped over my shoulder. I waved to the pilot who had no intention of stopping and then I saw Marrie’s face appear in the cockpit and the plane’s nose dipped as he put on the brakes. The ladder was partially extended and then retracted. I saw the pilot smiling as he let the ladder down and the door opened. I ran up the ladder. When I entered the plane I received a round of applause from all the passengers.

My seat was by the aisle with Miriam in the middle seat. Sitting by the window was a handsome man that I thought had to be CIA and was most likely working with the Contra’s fighting the Communist Sandinistas in the area.

We took off, the wheels retracted with a thud, shortly thereafter there was another smaller jerk. Miriam asked, “What was that Dad?”

I said, “The pilot just engaged his auto pilot and the plane’s altitude was different from when he turned it off.”

The CIA man leaned over and said, “So you also fly these?”

“Yeah, I’ve logged a few hours.”

“My name is Barry Seal.” He reached across Miriam and we shook hands.

On the two-hour trip to New Orleans I learned he had been released from prison that morning, having spent over a year in prison for landing with a hundred kilos of cocaine in his plane. He was now on his way home. He said he was once a Captain for TWA Airlines - the youngest ever. His career was blossoming at the time and he very quickly moved up to instructing other pilots on the Boeing 747. He lost that job after being indicted for flying a DC6 load of arms to anti-Castro forces in Cuba. I thought, 'If this guy is for real, then I have found my man.' We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and I watched a jubilant family meet him as he walked through customs. He introduced us to his wife Debbie, three little children that were hanging all over him, and to an older son. My lingering suspicions about him soon withered as it became obvious he was telling the truth about being released from prison that morning. You couldn't fake the tears, smiles and hugs.

He checked out to be all he claimed and a lot more. In a few weeks I called and invited him to Santa Barbara. I told him I was a smuggler and needed some help from time to time. We met for a coffee and then headed over to my hanger for a chat and a walk around. We went for a flight in my favorite Aero Commander with Barry in the left seat. He handled the plane like he had been flying it for years and I saw right off that he was a pro. When we got to 5,000ft he leveled off and said, "Let's check this sweetheart out. Mind if I do a few maneuvers?"

Well, that was a pretty big plane to be doing aerobatics in, but of course I had to say, "Show me what you got."

I immediately began to ever so slightly regret having given the green light for Barry to stress my airframe! He rolled it onto her side and did two 360's and it looked like the altimeter was welded in place. Then he pushed the nose down, picked up airspeed and performed a smooth loop and a half. At the top of the second he rolled it upright and then pulled it up into a tight spin. At about two thousand feet he stalled it and did what aerobatic pilots call a 'falling leaf' and we stalled from side to side until he was almost on the runway. Within seconds the gear was down and we landed like a feather hits the pavement with the barest 'jolt' as the undercarriage touched the tarmac. We stopped within a few feet. The only other person that I had ever seen do this was Bob Hoover, the aerobatic champion of the world. I wondered, 'who is this guy? He must have been a member of the Blue Angels when he was in the air force?' I had no further doubts about his flying ability. In fact, Barry had been flying since he was 16 years old and took to it like a duck to water. Only much later did I find out that Barry had served in special forces in Vietnam; had hundreds of parachute jumps under his belt (starting at age 16 in Air force Cadets) including combat jumps; and some said, served in Army Intelligence.

The plane needed modifications to the fuel tanks and Barry said he knew a mechanic in Mena, Arkansas who did good work and kept his mouth shut. I gave him ten thousand dollars and off he went with the plane. Some days later I flew to Baton Rouge, went to Barry's house and spent time with him, his wife Debbie and his three children where I had a most enjoyable time. In a short time of getting to know Barry, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he didn't drink, smoke or swear and his children were polite and well behaved.

We went to the hanger and inspected the new fuel tanks recently installed in the Aero Commander. There were four of them in the fuselage and three in the baggage compartment; all professionally hooked up to transfer pumps. That was enough fuel to fly from Colombia to Canada with plenty to spare. I flew to Montego Bay where I hid her in a hanger until needed.

Lito and Ache were devastated when I told them I was quitting and asked if I knew of anyone who would fly? They had all been exceptionally nice to me and it was only fair I should help them. I called Barry and he flew down to Miami. We met in the Omni Hotel. I offered to buy the planes and pay him two-thousand dollars per kilo to fly for me.

Barry agreed to the deal but didn’t want to fly without a copilot. I argued that he could load another 100 kilos without a copilot. However, he insisted. He had a friend named Emil Camp who was in prison in Honduras and for $20,000 he could have him released in a couple of days. He also wanted a Panther to fly the loads. These were Piper Navahos converted from the firewall forward with new 450 horse power motors and four blade props with q-tip ends to cut down on noise. One equipped with radar, storm scope and a new gyro navigation system cost between $350,000 and $400,000. I ended up buying seven of these haulers.

Barry flew to Honduras and returned a few days later with Emil who wasn’t near the pilot Barry was. I suspect they had become good friends while in prison and Barry wanted to help him. Most men prefer to have a partner or co-pilot, I don’t. Whenever he becomes scared his fear radiates and contaminates me.

My favorite landing strip was a little airport way out in the pines of Southern Louisiana where I paid the owner ten thousand dollars per landing. My other choice was on interstate 10 anywhere in Louisiana or Texas where it was closed for construction. Barry didn't even want to hear of my places. He would only land at Mena, Arkansas where Governor William Jefferson Clinton ruled with wife Hillary. Barry said he was covered one hundred percent, right to the very top; that is was impossible for him to be arrested. I balked at his bravado and wondered how you could guarantee 'one hundred percent'? Even with bribes, which were the norm at this level of operation, you could never guarantee 'one hundred percent'. I was soon to learn that when Barry said he was having, "lunch with the Gov," he wasn't joking.

The landing fee there was $50,000, or $125,000 in today's money. I can guess it was spread around through the Sherriff, on up the chain. I never bothered asking, I knew how things worked. It was no secret Bill and Hillary Clinton were up to their necks in mischief in the state of Arkansas. In any case, I had to cough up the money every time Barry landed at Mena and he must have done that at least thirty times on my watch. I found out much later he was doing far more than that. While I languished in prison, Barry kept flying and began operations in a much larger aircraft that was registered to the DEA and CIA. At times he was carrying over one and a half tons of cocaine in a single trip on a C-126 military transport aircraft dubbed, 'The Fat Lady'. Before loading the cocaine, he would drop off a load of arms for the Contra Rebels based in Nicaragua. Barry was right in the center of one of the greatest political scandals of the last century - Iran/Contra. Illegal arms shipments came out of the USA to anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua and cocaine flew right back into the USA in return, on the same plane - tons and tons of it. No one said, "Just say no." No one in the White House anyway. Nor Mena, Arkansas. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the name 'Barry Seal' and 'Mena' would soar to such notoriety in the years to come.

But for now, early in his career with the Medellin Cartel, Barry went to work for me and flew just as fast as I paid him. This doubled my risk as I was paying out cash for the cartel before I was paid. Nevertheless, I had to pay him before he would fly. Barry bitched and moaned about this and that. In one box containing a million dollars I placed a package of Stay Free Mini-Pads with a big pink bow. He thought it was so funny that he made a special place for it.

Barry was a likeable fellow. We met one night at the Omni Hotel. Marrie, Miriam and baby Rhett were there and we all went to dinner at the Festival Restaurant in Coral Gables. When we returned all the rooms were sold out, Barry spent the night with us. There were two double beds in the room and Barry stripped down to his striped shorts and T-shirt and made himself at home. During the night Rhett wanted a bottle. Barry laid him on his big belly and gave him the bottle, smacking and carrying on saying, “It’s sooo good, ain’t it Rhett?”

Before Barry was fully up and running and I was fully retired, I would have to work with him for a while, flying the southern Colombian end while Barry flew the northern end of operations into Mena. I'd arrange to meet 'halfway' at the Carver ranch in Belize and transfer the quarter ton of coke on the clay airstrip.

This weekly trip began with me flying my Aero Commander turbo prop out of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and meeting a Cessna 180 over the Colombian jungle. I would descend from 30,000ft and slow down to 150mph at tree top level and follow the little 180 right into the jungle airstrip. Quickly loaded, I would have my windshield wiped, a coffee, then be right out of there.

At a climb rate of 5000ft per minute I was soon up at 30,000 ft and able to reach Barry via radio, 2000 miles away, 12,000ft over Louisiana. Barry flew in his favorite 'Panther' converted Piper Navajo that he had flown in Vietnam and we would speak in code to time our arrival at the Carter ranch. "One hundred out," would crackle sharply over the radio. "Seventy five out, descending," I'd reply. We'd land within minutes of each other and pull up outside the home of Mr Cotter. We'd greet each other and I'd help refuel and transport the load into Barry's Panther.

At times when I landed the clay strip was wet and not being used to prop pitch and the idiosyncrasies of the Aero Commander, I'd end up sideways down the run way with Barry laughing at me sloshing this way and that in the mud.

the load transferred, I would fly back to Montego Bay while Barry would fly on to Mena, Arkansas, and on into infamy.


I had made some complaints to Pablo about the jungle airstrips and the dangers for my engines as they were sensitive turbo props - essentially a jet engine driving a propeller. Typical of the Medellin Cartel, no expense was spared and a thousand feet of runway were added and smoothed to perfection with hard clay. Later I heard that particular place was as busy as JFK airport with some extra large aircraft landing.

At times, Pablo himself would fly in on his Jet Ranger helicopter and talk with me about procedures and plans. On one particular trip he landed with his entourage and three hundred kilo's of produce looking very happy with himself. Both he and Jorge Ochoa had organized with the Sandinista Communist government of Nicaragua for me to land at a military airbase with a large concrete runway and modern facilities. I was extremely happy with this as both Barry and I were growing increasingly nervous about landing at the Carver ranch in Belize with fifteen million dollars worth of cocaine every week. It was only a matter of time before local bandits twigged as to what was happening and ambushed us. Barry had become so concerned he had taken to buzzing low over the jungle around the ranch landing site looking for suspicious activity. As he was empty at that time, carrying no produce until the exchange took place, he had started landing first and scouting the area out on foot. His special forces training and time in Vietnam came in very useful and with both of us getting increasingly nervous about the transfer Barry was over the moon when I told him about the new arrangement. "No shit!" he said, beaming. He was impressed.

Pablo arranged for me to meet "Ben", an American, tall with blonde hair and blue eyes on my next trip down south. A helicopter pilot by trade, he flew right seat with me and directed me to the large military airfield in the east of Nicaragua. On landing, we were taken to see the Commandante' in the officers mess and served a meal of steak with an egg on top as well as beans and rice. It sounds simple but it was delicious.

The commander was a very dignified and gracious man and assured us we were welcome at any time. His only instruction was that we maintain radio silence on approach to the base. Ben and I exited the officers mess well pleased with the new arrangement and I noted my beloved Aero-Commander was sparkling, washed, refueled and ready to go. Now, I was protected one hundred percent in Colombia and Barry was protected one hundred percent in Mena, Arkansas. It was too good to be true.

As we climbed aboard my plane, Ben quipped that it seemed all sides of politics were up to their necks in the drug trade. Whether supposed right wing capitalist Contra's or left wing Communist revolutionaries, coconuts and banana's were taking a serious second place to the cocaine flooding out of South America into the nasal passages of millions of Americans at fifty thousand dollars a kilo.

Ronald Reagan was later to make much of the expose of Sandinista government officials photographed unloading Barry in Nicaragua. Commentators claimed that it was a "set up" and the Iran/Contra affair was an almost purely Bush SNR, Oliver North/Contra operation, run by a virtual private intelligence group from within the CIA and State Department. Not so, the Sandinistas were playing their own part in the cocaine trade. Who wasn't? The Bush and Clinton clan included.

Sadly, I learned Ben was killed in the Andes mountains a week after meeting him. It was in bad weather. I was quite disappointed as he was a professional and decent young man. As time flies by, the tomb stones grow in number.


I hope you were entertained. I’ve seen many wonderful things, flown over countless lush landscapes and sailed the vast oceans with my beautiful wife and children and met many wonderful people, living a life few can imagine. But also reflect and rejoice on the opportunity to end this mad war that makes retired generals and police chiefs rich, pays for lawyers and judges new Mercedes and keeps prisons full of your sons and daughters.


William ‘Roger’ Reaves

January 2016,
Acacia Prison,
Perth, Western Australia
This guy did pretty well until he was caught. As he points out, a lot of people made money in and from the drug trade. The work pays well, like many other hazardous professions. Getting caught and doing prison time is just one of the hazards. At least he is alive, while many in the business paid with their lives.
This not like someone who committed a crime to support their family. This was a get -rich-quick scheme that finally went bad. I hope this man had a good time while it lasted because now it's time to pay the piper.