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New head-honcho at DEA protected drug smuggler

  • Reputable figures have come forward to expose a criminal cover-up of Illegal drug smuggling in Mena, Ark., that ties in an Arkansas congressman just appointed by the Bush administration to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.
By Daniel Hopsicker

George W. Bush's nomination of Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) to head the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a crushing blow to those who couldn't bring themselves to believe the sordid stories about the president consorting with drug smuggler Barry Seal.

Hutchinson, a former western Arkansas U.S. attorney, was directly involved in the Mena drug smuggling operation, producing the critical legal "protection" necessary for any operation of that size and magnitude and acting to squelch whatever legal action citizen outrage prompted.

As reported in the new book Barry & the "Boys", and a variety of independent sources, Bush had much more than a nodding acquaintance with Barry Seal, the biggest drug smuggler in American history, and his notorious Mena operation.

In addition to the people already on record regarding Hutchinson's coziness with the Mena cocaine smuggling, numerous witnesses have stepped forward for the first time on Hutchinson in Barry & the "Boys."

Finis Duvall, the Arkansas state police commander in charge of Mena, said that on at least one occasion Hutchinson, when he was U.S. attorney, "took care" of a Mena legal entanglement for Seal that has never surfaced in the press.

Duval said the Arkansas state police didn't try to develop a case against the Mena drug smuggler because it was well-known that he was being "protected" by Hutchinson.

"We always knew we couldn't prosecute Barry Seal, no matter what we got on him, because of the politics involved in the Western Judicial District," Duvall said.

Then there are Hutchinson's recent business dealing with drug smugglers.

Recently, a Seal drug smuggling associate, Michael Roy Fugler, took an Internet company called Netivation public. portrays itself as an Internet public policy and political web site, offering a package of fund-raising services to candidates and campaigns.

The Virginia State Democratic Party, for example, raised money for to produce web sites for its candidates. received a percentage of campaign contributions made to candidates via the web pages.

It also publishes the U.S. Congress Factbook, and has a major Internet site for campaign fund-raising.

After going public, Netivation immediately signed Hutchinson as marketing "poster boy."

Fugler, however, was no mere legal counsel to Seal. Rather, Fugler was an integral part of the smuggling organization. By the mid 1970s, Fugler was deeply involved in all of Seal's various businesses, including the "front" sign companies.

Several of Seal's associates gave accounts of Fugler's activities, including the time he left a briefcase with over $100,000 sitting on the front seat of a rental car at Baton Rouge airport and was too afraid to go back to retrieve it.


Hutchinson has served as a member of the House Speaker's Task Force for a Drug-Free America.

The task force has a mandate "to seek out new and more effective approaches to combating the threat of drug use among the nation's youth."

Hutchinson made some tough-talking speeches to community groups in Arkansas about cleaning up what even he had been forced to acknowledge was "a haven for international drug trafficking" where Seal had continued to operate from an air-field in Mena, just a few miles from Hutchinson's office.

Maybe the sound of the big C-123s rumbling overhead had scared him, but observers of Hutchinson's lack of performance grew increasingly skeptical of his crime-fighting credentials.

Hutchinson's action never once matched his rhetoric.

Former IRS agent William Duncan had been the first to take his information on Hutchinson public.

In a deposition for the Arkansas attorney general, Duncan was asked, "Are you stating now under oath that you believe that the investigation in and around the Mena airport of money laundering was covered up by the U.S. attorney?"

Duncan replied: "It was covered up."