Cocaine's Skydiving Smugglers

Now parachutists and disposable planes sneak in drugs

In the dead of night over western North Carolina, a twin-engine Cessna plunges into a mountainside in the Nantahala National Forest. There is no trace of the pilot. Having bailed out 70 miles to the northwest over Tennessee, he now lies dead in a suburban Knoxville backyard, tangled in the reserve parachute that he apparently opened too late. Strapped to his body is a green Army duffel bag containing $15 million in cocaine.

The unlucky parachutist was Andrew Carter Thornton II, 40, a failed Kentucky lawyer turned smuggler and adventurer. He died while trying out the newest and most daring method...

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