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Medical Examiner Says Bear Did Not Consume All of Missing Cocaine

December 24, 1985 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ A mountain bear that died after eating cocaine it found in a Georgia forest didn’t take all 75 pounds of the drug dumped in the area by a drug smuggler, say investigators who believe someone human may have helped.

Gary Garner, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation drug agent, said investigators want to talk to the unidentified hunter who found the dead bear on a hillside about three weeks ago.

The hunter told a friend about the animal, and word slowly spread to a state game and fish division employee who finally informed the GBI.

The bear’s body was found Friday near an empty duffel bag believed to have contained cocaine.

Dr. Kenneth Alonso, the state’s chief medical examiner, said an autopsy revealed that the bear absorbed only three or four grams of cocaine into its blood stream, although it may have eaten more.

″The question is: What happened to that duffel bag?″ Alonso said. ″The bear does not account for the full duffel bag.″

Authorities believe the duffel bag contained cocaine that was part of a large shipment dropped in the area by Andrew Carter Thornton II on a flight from Colombia in September.

Investigators believe he intended to return to the area to get the cocaine, but he died when he parachuted from the plane in Knoxville, Tenn., with 77 pounds of cocaine strapped to his waist.

The bear’s body and the bag were within 100 yards of three duffel bags holding a total of 218 pounds of cocaine that were found shortly after Thornton died, Garner said. A fourth bag containing 75 pounds was found nearby Nov. 5.