And after his death Logan Melgar's two partners in the operation, who are Navy SEALs, told authorities that he died because he was drunk during fighting exercises.
Melgar was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, the same group that lost four soldiers when came under fire in Niger in October 4. He was specifically selected for an intelligence operation there.
Not wanting to say much more, Melgar informed his wife, Michelle, that he'd tell her the full story when he got back home, according to an official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing.
And five members of the special-operations community have now said Melgar's death came after he had discovered the SEALs were pocketing money meant to pay local informants.
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According to the Beast, an altercation occurred at around 5 a.m., resulting in Melgar losing consciousness. But Melgar apparently declined their offer and was later found dead.
According to USA officials, he stopped breathing at around 5am and attempts to reopen his airway failed. The SEALs and another Green Beret then drove to a nearby French clinic seeking help, but he was dead prior to arrival due to asphyxiation. However, the Daily Beast reported Melgar didn't have alcohol in his system, causing more doubt to surround the SEALs' version of events. The outlet adds that Melgar's autopsy report was followed by the SEALs' claims that he was "grappling" with them when he ended up in a "chokehold".
Authorities nearly immediately suspected foul play and have spent months investigating, The Times said.
Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, then-commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, was allegedly skeptical of the initial reports from the outset, alerted Army Criminal Investigation Command to his suspicions and told commanders in Mali to preserve evidence.
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An official said jurisdiction for the investigation shifted from the Army investigation service to the Navy in September.
The investigation was fist reported by the New York Times and has sent shock-waves through the special-op community.
The two Navy SEALs have been placed on administrative leave.
Melgar, a native of Lubbock, Texas, enlisted in the US Army in 2012 and began Special Forces training in 2013, according to the US Army Special Command statement. He graduated from Special Forces Qualification in 2016.
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