Pablo EskoBear: The story about the cocaine bear

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Staff member
Dec 30, 2008
I remember reading this story in what was then called the Chattanooga News Free Press in Dec. 1985. I knew I should have cut it out and saved it, but... Who could have ever guessed that a goober named algore would invent something cool like the internet and things could be looked up 35 years later?

Anyway, this story, in bits and pieces, can still be found on the net. I'll include a single link, and I'll also fill in some of the details that you can look for on the net if you want to.

This was reported back then to have happened north of Ellijay, GA in a very rugged mountainous area. Other internet articles said it happened in Fannin County, closer to Blue Ridge. Anyway, the saga starts with an old man watching TV one night in Knoxville, TN when he hears a SPLAT on his driveway, 9/11/85. There lay a man with a parachute and a large duffel bag that was found to be full of cocaine. Shortly thereafter was a small plane crash in Hayesville, NC.

The initial flight originated somewhere in GA, I don't recall where. On the splattered guys body was his flight log and the cargo he was carrying--10 duffle bags of cocaine. The 1st bag was easy to find :mrgreen: , the other 9 not so much. Articles I've found have had the amount of cocaine much smaller, baloney! They'll ditch a plane for this coke!

Word got out with the locals. Back in '85 Hwy.76 across north GA was fairly new. Let's just say there weren't many people from NY living here, or who even wanted to for that matter. There were probably 4 off road vehicles to every 2 person household. You can't imaging how fast the news spread about 9 duffel bags of lost cocaine, pre-algore! They were up there by the hundreds, if not thousands, looking for these bags. The Feds had to block literally every dirt road to keep people out, no small undertaking.

The Feds accounted for 9 duffel bags (amazing!), but simply couldn't find the 10th. IIRC, the 10 bag was discovered by a hunter. There he found a dead bear, and a ripped open duffel bag of cocaine. Read how much sweet cocaine this bear consumed before dying! :shock:

The following article is from 2021; I just found it tonight. The other articles I found a few months ago had it all wrong, or was just really bad reporting.

Anyway, when Heliman said he wanted to meet me in Ellijay, GA it reminded me of this amazing story. I still think of it every single time I ride my motorcycle between Ellijay and Blue Ridge. Most people who live here now don't know anything about Pablo EskoBear. If the link is correct, there might be a movie about it. I hope they don't take too many liberties with it as it doesn't need to be embellished.

Pablo EskoBear LOL :mrgreen:
Oct 26, 2006
Thanks Cholo, I hadn’t heard of that one! My Grandfather crashed and died in a Cessna 140 back in 1958, outside of Elijay, Ga. dropping a package to my Aunt.


Sep 8, 2010
Hadn't heard about the bear, but otherwise, the story is well known in my neck of the woods. The guy that went splat was from the area & big talk plus front page news in the Lexington paper.

I've met the splat masters bother & he seems like a normal citizen, but we never know do we.
Nov 5, 2007
I just read about this in the news, perhaps last month or so. I think they are going to make a movie about the bear. I remember reading the stuffed bear is in some shopping mall or something like that in Kentucky.

It’s a really funny story. The cocaine must have tasted good for the bear to eat that much of it.
Oct 24, 2007
Well known in Kentucky . . . the Bluegrass Conspiracy.

On a smuggling run from Colombia, having dumped packages of cocaine off near Blairsville, Georgia, Thornton and a partner jumped from his auto-piloted Cessna 404. In the September 11, 1985, jump, he was caught in his parachute and ended up in a free fall to the ground. His body was found in the driveway of Knoxville, Tennessee, resident Fred Myers. The plane crashed over 60 mi (97 km) away in Hayesville, North Carolina. At the time of his death Thornton was wearing a bulletproof vest and Gucci loafers, and in possession of night vision goggles, a green army duffel bag containing approximately 40 kilos (88 lbs.) of cocaine valued at $15 million, $4,500 in cash, six 0.1 oz (2.8 g). gold Krugerrands, knives, and two pistols. Three months later, a dead black bear was found in the Chattahoochee National Forest that had apparently overdosed on cocaine dropped by Thornton.

They even managed to work this into an episode of JUSTIFIED.



Apr 27, 2015
For about 15 minutes, that bear was the #1 apex predator on the planet.