New movie Cocaine Bear has an interesting backstory

The true story of a bear who consumed 35 lbs of cocaine


Kevin Allen

This unique and tragic story was turned into a thriller and action film.

The new film Cocaine Bear was inspired by an event that happened in September 1985 that revolved around a 175 lbs black bear. The black bear died after consuming a duffle bag full of cocaine. The bear got a hold of the duffle bag after drug smugglers threw it out of a plane.

But there is a lot more information surrounding this event. Variety News tells the true story of Cocaine Bear. This incident started in September 1985 when convicted drug smuggler Andrew Thornton died after a parachuting accident. Some theories say Thornton was traveling in a plane with 880 pounds of cocaine and thought the government was trailing him, so he decided to throw some of the stash out of the plane and take more with him when he parachuted out. It obviously didn’t go as planned.

On September 11, 1985, Thornton was found dead in a driveway in Knoxville, Tennessee with roughly $15 million worth of cocaine strapped to his body. They found him wearing a pair of Gucci loafers.

Cocaine Bear was not introduced until The New York Times reported that in December 1985 a black bear “died from an overdose… after [it] discovered a duffle bag full of the drug.” The bear was found dead in Chattahoochee National Forest.

The cocaine duffle bag was thrown out of the plane that Andrew Thornton was piloting. He did this because it was too heavy of a load to parachute with. It was said that the bear was found on a Friday in northern Georgia with 40 opened containers and traces of cocaine.

Dr. Kenneth Alonso, Georgia’s chief medical examiner at the time, performed an autopsy on the bear and found that it had three to four grams of cocaine in its blood stream. This was a low estimate — the bear could have consumed more than that. There are rumors that say the bear ate all 40 containers worth of cocaine, about 35 lbs.

Unlike the new movie, the real story of Cocaine Bear never had any casualties or severed limbs found in the forest that linked back to the bear. Screenwriter Jimmy Warde said that the film is not historical fiction but “[his] twisted fantasy of what [he] wish[es] actually happened after the bear did all that cocaine”.