The Cocaine Bear Torrent: A Tragic and Bizarre Story

The Cocaine Bear Torrent: A Tragic and Bizarre Story

In the summer of 1985, a black bear in the mountains of Georgia stumbled upon a stash of cocaine worth over $15 million. The bear ingested the drugs and died shortly after, leading to one of the most bizarre and tragic stories in recent history. The incident has since become known as the “Cocaine Bear Torrent,” and it continues to captivate people’s imaginations to this day.

The Discovery of the Cocaine Bear

The story begins with the arrest of Andrew Thornton, a former narcotics officer turned drug smuggler. Thornton was flying a plane loaded with 40 duffel bags full of cocaine from Colombia to the United States when he encountered some mechanical issues. In a panic, he jettisoned the bags over rural Georgia before crashing his plane and dying.

One of the bags landed in the Chattahoochee National Forest, where it was discovered by hikers a few days later. They opened the bag and found several smaller bags inside, each containing cocaine. The hikers took some of the drugs and left the rest behind, not realizing that they were being watched by a curious black bear.

The bear soon found the stash and began eating the cocaine. The drugs caused the bear to suffer a seizure and die from an overdose. The bear’s body was later found by authorities, along with several empty bags of cocaine.

The Aftermath of the Incident

The discovery of the dead bear with cocaine in its system made headlines across the country. It was a bizarre and tragic story that captured people’s imaginations. The incident also highlighted the dangers of drug smuggling and the impact it can have on wildlife.

The bear’s body was sent to the University of Georgia for an autopsy, which confirmed that it had died from a cocaine overdose. The bear was later stuffed and put on display at a local museum, where it became a popular attraction.

The incident also had legal repercussions. Several people were arrested and charged with drug trafficking, including Thornton’s accomplices and the hikers who had taken some of the cocaine. The case became known as the “Bluegrass Conspiracy,” and it involved a network of drug smugglers and corrupt law enforcement officials.

The Legacy of the Cocaine Bear

The Cocaine Bear Torrent has become a cultural phenomenon in the years since the incident. The story has been featured in books, documentaries, and even a song by country singer Sturgill Simpson. The bear has become an icon of sorts, representing the strange and tragic consequences of drug smuggling.

The incident has also had a lasting impact on wildlife conservation efforts. It highlighted the dangers that drugs can pose to animals and the environment. It also raised awareness about the need to protect wildlife habitats from the negative effects of human activity.


The Cocaine Bear Torrent is a tragic and bizarre story that continues to captivate people’s imaginations. It highlights the dangers of drug smuggling and the impact it can have on wildlife. The incident has had a lasting legacy, serving as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the need to protect our natural resources.