Drugs: A Smuggler's Hard Landing

A Smuggler's Hard Landing

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Fred Myers, 84, got up to shave last week in his Knoxville home, looked out the window and saw a body in his backyard. Police found the remains of Andrew Carter Thornton II, 40, snarled in a parachute. Along with 79 lbs. of cocaine, two pistols, knives and $4,500 in cash, Thornton carried night-vision goggles and wore a bulletproof vest. Police believe he had smuggled the drugs, with a value of $15 million, in a twin-engine Cessna. He put the plane on * automatic pilot and bailed out. At treetop level, his chute became fouled. Instead of landing upright, he hit the ground headfirst. The wrecked plane was found 70 miles away in North Carolina.

A member of a well-to-do Kentucky family, Thornton went to Sewanee Military Academy, then joined the Army and trained as a paratrooper. Back home in Lexington, he became a narcotics officer, then went on to earn a law degree from the University of Kentucky and worked as an attorney. But he soon strayed to the other side of the law. He had been implicated in marijuana smuggling, and he was on probation from a drug-possession conviction.