Tom Cruise may soon be playing drug informant Adler “Barry” Seal, who was gunned down outside a Baton Rouge halfway house in what prosecutors said was a hit ordered by the Medellin drug cartel, entertainment trade publication Variety reports.
Screenwriter Gary Spinelli named the prospective film’s script “Mena,” after the Arkansas city where Seal conducted operations.
On Feb. 19, 1986, Seal was killed by machine-gun fire while parking his car at the Salvation Army Community Treatment Center on Airline Highway. He’d been serving a six-month sentence there for drug and banking offenses.
Three Colombian nationals were found guilty of murdering Seal at the behest of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and other drug traffickers. They were sentenced to life in prison.
Seal was murdered because he gave authorities information about Escobar and other cocaine kingpins, prosecutors said. His colorful career included service in the U.S. Army Special Forces and work as the youngest U.S. pilot to fly 707 and 747 jets. Following his firing by Trans World Airlines because of his involvement in a scheme to smuggle guns and explosives to Mexico, Seal turned to drug smuggling.
Seal once claimed he’d brought 20,000 pounds of cocaine into Baton Rouge without leaving his house. In 1984, he was indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 462 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $168 million. He also was charged with causing four financial institutions not to report currency transactions that totaled more than $50,000.
As part of his plea deal, Seal was fined and ordered to serve time at the halfway house.
In 1986, Darla O’Connor, director of corrections at Seal’s halfway house, told reporters that she cautioned Seal to be careful. But the federal informant, she added, “really thought he had everything under control. … He was just a real self-confident individual.” Seal, she added, “felt the feds were looking out for him.”
If Cruise signs on to portray Seal in “Mena,” he’ll be working with Doug Liman, producer of the Cruise 2014 sci-fi film “Edge of Tomorrow.” Liman has signed to direct “Mena,” a project Ron Howard previously was reported to direct. Cruise is currently shooting the fourth “Mission: Impossible” sequel.
Dennis Hopper previously played Seal in the 1991 TV movie “Doublecrossed.” Seal’s exploits also were covered in the PBS documentary series “Frontline.”