Paul S. Seema
Special Agent Paul S. Seema of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Los Angeles Field Division Office, died on February 6, 1988, of gunshot wounds he received the day before during an undercover operation in Los Angeles, California. He was 51 years of age at the time of his death. Special Agent George M. Montoya was killed on February 5, in the same undercover operation. Special Agent Seema, a quiet gentleman, was a native of Thailand. He began his career working intelligence for the United States military in Southeast Asia and in 1976, after joining DEA, he was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Thailand. While serving with DEA in Bangkok he gathered intelligence on international narcotics organizations and worked with Thai police officials and DEA agents in the United States to dismantle heroin trafficking groups that posed such a serious threat to America. On February 5, 1988 Special Agent Seema was one of three undercover agents negotiating with a Taiwanese criminal group to purchase two pounds of Southeast Asian heroin for $80,000. He and his partners met the trafficker and went with him to a quiet Pasadena neighborhood to pick up the heroin. Special Agent Seema did not know that the traffickers had planned to rob and kill him and his partners for the money. They were ambushed and Special Agent Seema died the following day, one day after his partner George Montoya passed away from gunshot wounds. Special Agent Seema was loved by his associates who remember his ability to make people laugh and look past the horrors of the drug world. In 1988, Special Agent Seema was posthumously awarded the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association's Medal of Valor. Special Agent Seema was survived by his wife, Joy; two sons Jayson and Santi; and a brother Whitney Seema. Each year proceeds from the Paul Seema-George Montoya Golf Tournament are donated to DEA’s Survivors Benefit Fund.
Comments about Paul S. Seema
Paul and I worked together for 4 years as members of the DEA Bangkok Country Intelligence Unit. We crisscrossed Thailand constantly traveling in support of intelligence projects conversing with many Thai military and police units.Paul, as an American born in Thailand, had an uncanny ability to open doors in difficult situations because his expertise, personal charm and love of Thailand and America was so evident.He was the model for an Intelligence Officer because he was smart, decisive and had nerves of steel.I remember driving roads to meetcounterparts with him in 1984 paralleling Cambodia in southwest Thailand where the Khmer Rouge were constantly lobbing mortar rounds from the mountain hillsides on our left into thailand sometimes directly hit5ting a bus with 50 people inside or on the roof.Our meetings with Royal Thai Marines close to Ko Chang south of Chanthaburi produced strategic intelligence on boat trafficking routes never identified. These intelligence probes in the northeast, along the Malaysian border, out on the Andamin Sea for extended periods, or in the Golden Triangle area gave me a unique insight into this man.He loved thai music and dance and frequently dressed the part at Embassy social gatherings. Unexpectedly, he would stop an embassy vehicle in some remote area and walk to a nearby tree with 15 men sitting in the shape protected from the hot sun. they would eye the man not sure whether he was a Thai or a "farang" and amazed when he started singing, talking and entertaining them spontaneously.When they learned he was from america, they were in awe because Thais have a special affection for the US where their King was born. Paul had another unique side besides his official responsibilities as a Senior Special Agent/Intelligence Officer and that was his compassion for people in need. When paul was assigned to theLlos Angeles Regional Office 1987, he brought a young Thai boy who was his son's best friend.this boy is now an American citizen, married, productive and carrying on the Paul Seema traditional with his brother Jason. Thai police General Pairoj Pussayanawin traveled to Los Angeles and later New Prague, Minnisota to represent the Thai Government at two funeral services for S/A Seema in rognition of his contributions to the Kingdom of Thailand and the field of international narcotic enforcement.He was loved and respected by his brother DEA officers, Foreign Anti narcotic Committee(FANC) Thailand and its members stationed in Bangkok from 25 countries, and Thai Police units in assisting narcotic control activities. Once in 1985, Paul brought my family to visit his mother who lived on an island near Chachoensau to spend a weekend on mrs. Seema's coconut farm. Everyone slept under mosquito nets, crossed a log over a stream very carefully to reach an outhouse and sat on an amazing sparkling red wood floor eating dinner and listening to stories about his brother, sisters, and parents with an old man who worked there and who got my cowboy hat as a gift upon leaving. Fortunately, i brought my movie camera and made a permanent record of an extraordinary weekend with this great guy. My family was indeed fortunate and privledged for this experience. S/A Seema's memory lives in my being and will never be forgotten. God bless you my brother. Kevin P. Finnerty CIU Supervisor, bangkok (1983-89)— Kevin P. Finnerty