The Real Story That Inspired the ‘Cocaine Bear’ Movie

The true story behind the movie ‘Cocaine Bear’ is less impressive and terrifying than its plot, although it is quite surprising.

Alejandro Vizzuett

cocaine bear movie

Although the premise of the next Elizabeth Banks film, Cocaine Bear, is shocking and terrifying, the story in which it is slightly inspired is not so much, so we can say that, on this occasion, fiction surpassed reality. The first thing that needs to be clarified regarding this story is that there was indeed a black bear in a Georgia forest that consumed the infamous substance by accident, due to the carelessness of a trafficker who dropped several bags, but its story is not so alarming, as the movie trailer paints it to us.

In Banks’ feature film, this bear becomes so violent that he begins to attack various residents of the reserve area where he lives, all because he is looking for more substance to ingest. The real-life story is not that catastrophic, although it is quite sad. This event occurred in the 1980s, more precisely in 1985, and the world found out about it after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) made a shocking and disconcerting announcement, as pointed out by All That’s Interesting: a 175-pound black bear was found dead because of an overdose after discovering a duffel bag full of the drug in the woods.

And how did it get there, many wondered? Here’s the story: Andrew Thornton, a smuggler, and former Kentucky narcotics investigator, was the one who airdropped in his attempt to smuggle the substance after surviving a parachute drop from an airplane. Therefore, the GBI began to search until they found traces in the Georgia forest, where they found not only the rest of the shipment but also the body of the bear that had managed to ingest the narcotic by accident.

Authorities found the animal’s body approximately 80 miles north of Atlanta, and experts in the case reported that it had been dead for about 4 weeks. Near his remains, an open duffel bag and around 40 torn packets were also found. “The bear got to it before we could, and he tore the duffel bag open, got some, and OD’d. There’s nothing left but bones and a big hide”, commented on the matter Gary Garner, member of the GBI, to the Associated Press.

Cocaine bear movie

Each package was said to contain around 2.20 pounds, so it is estimated that each duffel bag contained around 88 pounds distributed among 40 packages; however, the bear consumed most of one of the bags. It was also stated that Thornton had 77 pounds with him when he died.

Later, a medical examiner named Kenneth Alonso told the Associated Press that the bear had only three to four grams in its bloodstream at the time of its death, although it was likely that it had ingested more, and that the drug would have been digested between the time the animal died, and his remains was found.

Subsequent inquiries also found four other duffel bags within a 100-yard radius of where the bear was found, each containing between 75 and 88 pounds spread among several packages.

Details about the movie Cocaine Bear

Elizabeth Banks’ story, which will hit the big screen on February 24 in the United States, was based on some details of a true story but only used them in a plot that combines horror and comedy and mixes it with a range of characters who, in turn, will face other types of situations, closely linked to family relationships.

The cast includes actors Ray Liotta, Keri Russell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Alden Ehrenreich, who will come to grips with this idea of an aggressive bear who could kill everyone because of drug ingestion.