Cocaine found, bear dies of overdose

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. -- Another duffel bag of cocaine believed belonging to a convicted drug smuggler who parachuted to his death in September has been found along with a dead bear that overdosed on the drug, officials said Sunday.

Agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation say 40 packages of cocaine, almost 90 pounds worth an estimated $15 million, were discovered in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County on Friday.


The agents found a dead 175-pound black bear among the ripped open packages of cocaine.

'They'd been looking for the cocaine on Thursday, didn't find it, and returned to search on Friday. They found the bear, too,' Fannin County Sheriff Walter Porter said Sunday.

The bear was taken to the state crime lab where it was determined the animal died of cocaine overdose. It had been dead about a month.

GBI Agent Gary Garner of Gainesville said the cocaine was believed to have been dropped in September from a small plane piloted by Andrew Thornton, a convicted drug smuggler.

Thornton piloted a single-engine aircraft over the north Georgia mountains and parachuted from the plane after setting it on automatic pilot while over Knoxville, Tenn.


Thornton's parachute failed to open and he fell to his death in a Knoxville neighborhood with 77 pounds of cocaine strapped to his waist. The plane crashed in the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Tennessee.

Garner said two other duffel bags similar to the one found on Thornton were discovered this fall on national forest land. Authorities believe those two duffel bags of cocaine and the one found on Friday were dropped by Thornton.

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