When workers at a Coca-Cola factory in France opened a shipment from Central America, they found a lot more than just the fruit juice concentrate they were expecting. The shipment from Costa Rica contained cocaine with a street value of up to 50 million euros (nearly $56 million).
Employees at Coca-Cola’s factory in the town of Signes in southern France found the drugs hidden in bags packed with a delivery of orange juice concentrate. The factory manufactures concentrates for a variety of drinks.
A spokesman for the company reportedly said that the workers immediately informed the authorities. The Marseille prosecutor’s office announced Wednesday that an investigation into the trafficking and importing of illegal drugs has been opened. The bags contained nearly 370 kilograms (815 pounds) of cocaine.
A prosecutor in Toulon city told the BBC that the cocaine seized “has a street value of 50 million Euros” and called the incident “a very bad surprise.”
Authorities have ruled out the possibility that the workers were connected to the smuggling.
“The first elements of the investigation have shown that employees are in no way involved,” Jean-Denis Malgras, the regional president of Coca-Cola, told local media.
The original formula for the aerated beverage developed by U.S. pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886 is believed to have had traces of the drug obtained from the coca leaf. This seizure of 370 kilograms of cocaine is one the biggest in France.