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The drug smuggling pilot-The inspiration behind the movie ‘American Made’

Adler Berriman Seal’s grave marker is adorned with an airplane and a cross. The airplane quite fitting for the pilot and the cross a questionable addition to some.

It’s the description of a rebel adventure. The likes of whom in previous days made America great would likely enrage others. Why are there such strong emotion surroundings??

This man was born in July of 1939 and killed in February of 1986, who only lived to be 46. His life from birth to death was nothing but unique. Though christened Adler Berryman Seal when brought into the world on July 19th of 1939, all who knew him called him Berry.

Growing up, he was described as fun, wild and at times mischievous like many other young boys. But, he wasn’t raised by just any family. Some sources claim that not only was his father Benjamin Curtis Seal, a candy salesman. But, he was also a supporting member of a white supremacist group; the Ku Klux Clan; wild Clan membership peaked to an astonishing 4 million in the 1920s. The movement had lost steam with the Great Depression of the 30s and fell apart completely a few years after Barry’s birth.

It was not rekindled until later on in the civil rights era. However, the senior seals bigotry seemingly endured despite the lack of public support and remained unwavering. One can only guess the things Barry was subjected to, as a consequence while a young man growing up. Fortunately, Barry made a name for himself early on.

Not as a racist, but as a remarkably gifted pilot, he first manned an aircraft in solo flight at the tender age of 15. After just eight hours of practice, by 16 ,he was a fully licensed pilot while others his age might work on a paper route or beg groceries at a store.

Barry spent his time towing advertisements across the sky, to earn some extra cash and he knew just what to spend it on. He allegedly landed a plane on his high school football field in order to impress a girl and take her out on a date. As he grew older, Barry put his many talents to use in much more practical ways. He joined the Louisiana Army National Guard in 1961 and served as a member of the 20th special forces group for several years.

After doing his part for the country, he worked as an engineer for Transworld Airlines. However, his in-flight talents quickly became evident and soon elevated him to the position of command pilot. Once again, he was one of the youngest people to make it this far and operate his own Boeing 7070. However, the promising start in life was soon to take a turn for the worse.

Berry became injured on the job in 1972 and began to engage in some dubious activities. During his time on medical leave, he started to fly explosives to Cuba for a friend affiliated with the mob. Though Berry was led to believe they were for use in the battle against Fidel Castro, this was not the case. Himself and others were arrested. But, when witnesses for the prosecution could not testify, the case was ruled a mistrial. While not enough to derail his life as a jail sentence would, the scandal resulted in him losing his job as a Trans World Airlines pilot facing unemployment.

He sought a paycheck elsewhere in much darker places based on information provided by his wife. It was in 1975 that he turned the corner from making a good honest living to profiting exclusively off crime. It was just four years after Nixon declared drug abuse, America’s public enemy that berry began smuggling the stuff across the country’s borders. He began with stashes of weed, then bridged over to pills and finally to cocaine.

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This helped him develop some rather unsavory connections and brought him into close contact with the Medellín cartel. Eventually, he was transporting mass shipments of drugs on behalf of Pablo Escobar; its leader. Escobar and his crew had quite a reputation already at this point. But, they were busy making it worse.

They were behind the Medellín massacre that took place that same year and left 40 dead as retaliation for the seizure of their drugs by Colombian authorities. They also had a habit of referring to Barry as El Gordo which means the fat man. However, Barry began a partnership with the nefarious criminals. Nonetheless, becoming an even greater one himself in the process after hooking up with a cartel, he began to unload his cargo in sparsely populated areas of West Arkansas instead of Louisiana, the place he was most familiar with and called home.

This was a much safer destination especially considering how Barry would fling duffle bags of drugs from his plane to be snatched up by his waiting below. For years, he made mega bucks off this arrangement and accumulated a stash in the millions until one day, when a shipment was intercepted on route to Fort Lauderdale Florida.

Just like that, his days of profiteering off the drug trade were over. Unfortunately, by that point on calculable damage had already been done upon being apprehended. Berry admitted that he had flown drugs into America more than 100 times carrying between 6000 and 1,200 pounds of cocaine a trip. This amounted to billions of dollars worth of illicit substances and most assuredly resulted in the death of countless American citizens. Not to mention, the destruction of their families in a tragic ripple effect throughout society upon being sold off at their final destination.

As a consequence of his actions, Berry was indicted in 1983. Yet, he somehow only handed a meager 10-year sentence. However, to him, a man who liked to live life on the edge and engage in thrill after thrill, even this was too much. He tried on several occasions to offer his services to the FBI and operate as an informant in order to escape.

During the time, the FBI wasn’t interested in making a deal. However, not wanting to give up easily Berry flew to the DC office of the Vice president of the Drug Task Force. He was redirected to the Drug Enforcement Administration which at the time had only been around for about a decade.

It was there that his proposal was accepted. Berry became part of an operation backed by the Reagan administration. However, they had ulterior motives of their own. Beyond simply bringing drug smugglers to justice, Reagan and his associates wanted to have the Contras militia in power in Nicaragua. However, the US was in a bit of a pickle as Contras were renowned for various human rights violations. In other words, they could not be backed without a reason and it had to be a good one.

Berry claimed to be able to give them this. Apparently, the Sandinistas were working together with the Medellín cartel in the drug smuggling business and he could provide proof. Berry held up his side of the bargain landing in Nicaragua. The CIA’s cameras on his plane captured images of the medellín cartel and its leader loading cocaine with the soldiers’ assistance. Perhaps, wanting to give yet further importance to the mission, Berry later claimed that an associate of a Nicaraguan official was present as well.

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While this was questioned by some reporters, others believed this as well as everything else. Berry would come to wish they had it. The Washington Times soon published a story in which they described his trip and called him out by name. It was pretty clear from the piece that he had been working for the US government to disclose the underhanded dealings between the sandanista officials and the cartel. The timing could not have been worse as it also brought Berry’s usefulness to an end.He originally intended to stage a celebration with Escobar and other key players after successfully flying the cocaine to the States.

However this would work as a cover as the men would be surprised and arrested. With his cover blown, this was no longer possible. The DEA assignment to no more missions and while Barry was somewhat safer by remaining in the states, he also no longer had the DEA’s protection. The Medellín cartel was not without the funds to go after him in America. Yet, it would turn out that his own government at least initially got to him first. The FBI came after Berry. The DEA cut him loose and he had returned to his home in Louisiana while he was ultimately given only six months of supervised probation. It was in essence a sentence of death.

He was mandated to be on a Salvation Army halfway house each and every day for 12-hour shifts to comply with the circumstances of his parole. In other words, anyone in everyone knew where he would be between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on a daily basis. Unsurprisingly, it was just outside of the Salvation Army building that Berry was murdered, while his friend watched in horror from the nearby Belmont hotel. It was February 19th of 1986.

According to this friend, Jim, killers approached Barry’s car from both sides while each carried machine-guns. Only one shot, his weapon Barry anticipated what was soon to take place and put his head down before the shots were fired. While definitely not without his bolts, many claimed that the way Barry’s life ended was reprehensible. They believed that was a disgrace that a man who put his own safety on the line while working for the country was essentially left out in the open at a time when he was most vulnerable due to betrayal though he had allegedly refused witness protection.

Many claimed that in his own best interests, he should have been forced to accept some sort of a defense. Fortunately, those who killed him answered for their crime. Assassins linked to the Medellín cartel were later found trying to flee to Louisiana and they were convicted of murder and sentenced to live out the rest of their lives behind bars. However, some believed that the way things panned out, was just all too convenient. Some believe it was the CIA, not the cartel who orchestrated the events surrounding Berry’s death.

It was rather nice that Regan could use the photographs from Berry’s secret mission once his cover was blown, to gain public support for conference control. However, he may have just been taking advantage of an opportunity that had in essence fallen into his lap.

The End

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