Inside incredible true story of Cocaine Bear who ate duffel bag full of 75lb of coke that dropped from a plane


THE incredible true story of a bear who ate an entire duffel bag full of cocaine which was dropped from a plane has inspired a wild new film.

The bizarre discovery of an overdosed 175lb black bear in the middle of a forest in Georgia, USA led to an even stranger case where a drug smuggler strapped up with £12m of cocaine fell from the sky.

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Cocaine Bear was stuffed and is now on display as a tourist attraction in KentuckyCredit: Kentucky For Kentucky
Andrew Thornton was a former drug cop and paratrooper turned smuggler

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Andrew Thornton was a former drug cop and paratrooper turned smugglerCredit: Findagrave.com
The wild events of the true story inspired Cocaine Bear

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The wild events of the true story inspired Cocaine BearCredit: IMDB/Universal

An upcoming horror comedy film titled Cocaine Bear is loosely based on the events of the true story.

It all started back in 1985 when a bear was found in the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forest after ingesting 75 lbs of the powder.

A team of pathologists were stunned to discover millions of pounds worth of cocaine inside its stomach.

“Its stomach was literally packed to the brim with cocaine,” the medical examiner who looked at the bear told the owners of Kentucky for Kentucky, a shop which promotes the state.

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“There isn’t a mammal on the planet that could survive that.

“Cerebral haemorrhaging, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, renal failure, heart failure, stroke. You name it, that bear had it.”

The discovery of the overdosed bear was quickly linked to the mysterious death of an ex-narcotics cop and lawyer turned drug smuggler.

Andrew Thornton II was found dead on a driveway in Tennessee with a failed parachute on his back.

The 40-year-old was carrying thousands in cash and two pistols, and he was wearing night vision goggles, a bulletproof vest, and Gucci loafers on his feet.

Investigators later discovered that he was in the final stages of a smuggling run when he jumped from a plane.

Flying from Colombia, Thornton was dropping packages of cocaine from the plane over Georgia -one of which the bear found.

He then jumped himself with the rest strapped to his waist – the abandoned aircraft was left on autopilot and it smashed into a mountainside in North Carolina.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Thornton “hit his head on the tail of the aircraft” as he jumped and failed to open his parachute as he plunged to the ground.

Cops thought he was planning to meet someone when he landed, and investigators retracing his plane’s flightpath eventually found nine duffel bags of cocaine.

But they were beaten to the tenth.

Three months after Thornton’s fall, the black bear that did find the tenth duffel bag was discovered dead in the forest.

The medical examiner gave the carcass to a taxidermist friend who stuffed the bear, and it went on display at a visitor centre in the forest.

When a wildfire swept through the forest in the 90s, employees at the centre saved the bear and some of their other treasures from the flames by putting them in storage.

But it was stolen and sold to a pawn shop – which in turn sold it to country music legend Waylon Jennings.

He gave it to a friend and, when the friend died, it was bought for $200 at an auction of his estate.

The buyer, Zhu T’ang, ran a Chinese medicine shop in Reno, Nevada, where the bear stood as a decoration.

“At first, he wanted to keep it in our living room but I wouldn’t have it,” Zhu’s widow told Kentucky for Kentcuky.

“It scared me. I made him take it to the store.”

Zhu had no idea about the bear’s wild cocaine history, nor did his widow, who sold the bear to Kentucky for Kentucky’s owners when they tracked it down.

To this day, Cocaine Bear is on display at the Fun Mall in Lexington, Kentucky, as a tourist attraction today.

Thornton came from a privileged background before serving as a paratrooper in the Dominican Republican.

It was after the military that he joined the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Police Department in 1968, eventually becoming a member of its narcotics squad, and he took night classes to train as a lawyer.

A Drug Enforcement Administration who worked with Thornton on narcotics investigations in the 70s called him a “007 paramilitary type personality” and “an adventurer driven by adrenaline rushes” who eventually got bored with police work, the Washington Post reports.

He was a trained warrior – a very efficient killer trained by the U.S. government

Betty Zairing on Thornton

“He was a trained warrior – a very efficient killer trained by the U.S. government,” Betty Zairing said, who was married to Thornton between 1968-1970.

“He went onto the police force so he could do battle. He was happiest when he was on the cutting edge, when he tested himself.”

Thornton handed in his gun and badge in 1977 – but he didn’t leave his life of action behind.

He joined a private security firm set up by his pal Bradley Bryant, which ultimately drew Thornton to the wrong side of the law.

In 1981, he was charged with piloting a plane filled with tonnes of marijuana as part of a huge drug-importing conspiracy and he became a fugitive for several months until he was caught.

Three days before he was due to appear in court, in 1982, he was shot twice in the chest at close range leaving a restaurant.

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But the rounds didn’t penetrate the bulletproof vest he was wearing and cops concluded the shooting was staged to persuade the judge his life would be in danger if he was jailed.

He was sentenced to six months for the cannabis conspiracy – but it didn’t deter him from his drug dealing operations which ultimately led to his death.

The black bear ingested cocaine worth thousands

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The black bear ingested cocaine worth thousandsCredit: Twitter





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