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Coca-Cola produces tons of pure cocaine every year at a secret New Jersey factory: the company has special permission from US authorities

A small chemical plant tucked away in a quiet area of ​​New Jersey has an exclusive license to import coca leaves into the US on behalf of The Coca-Cola Company and produces $2 billion worth of pure cocaine annually. Daily Mail.

Photo: IStock

The leaves are used to produce a "decocainized" ingredient for the iconic soda, and the cocaine by-product is sold to the nation's largest opioid manufacturer, which sells the powder as a pain reliever and local anesthetic for dentists.

The modest Maywood plant has been processing coca leaves for Coca-Cola for over 100 years and is now run by a chemical manufacturer called the Stepan Company.

It operates under special licenses issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and is the only company in the US allowed to import coca leaves and manufacture cocaine.

And only this year, on January 30, Stepan successfully renewed the petition for permission to further import the substance into the United States.

It is currently unknown how many leaves the company imports. In the 1980s, it was reported that more than 500 tons of leaves could enter the plant in one year.

Five hundred tons of leaves produce about two million grams of cocaine, which, according to the list of pharmaceutical companies on the Internet, can be worth about $2 billion.

Most of what is known about the secret agreement was made public in the late 1980s, when government officials and Coca-Cola eventually started talking about it.

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The New York Times reported at the time that Stepan imported between 56 and 588 tons of coca annually, mostly from Peru but also from Bolivia.

Ricardo Cortez is the illustrator and author of The Secret History of Coffee, Coca and Cola, which tells the history of the drink and how the company behind it obtained exclusive rights to process the coca plant in the United States.

Reports in Cortés' possession and published by the National Coca Company, a Peruvian state-owned company, indicate that between 2007 and 2010, between 45 and 104 tons of leaves were exported to Maywood annually.

“It's the most American brand, but they don't want to be associated with the drug wars,” Cortez said. “They are making an improved version of what is happening in the jungles of Bolivia.”

The coca leaf is a plant source of cocaine and is used in the illicit manufacture of the drug in parts of South America, including Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The importation of the leaves into the United States has been banned since 1921.

Yet the Coca-Cola Company, now valued at about $265 billion, has freely imported a "controlled substance" over the past century. At a time when governments were trying to crack down on the notorious coca plant, the company miraculously escaped restrictions.

Article 27 of the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which provides for strict control of coca cultivation, contains suspiciously precise exceptions.

“The Parties may authorize the use of coca leaves for the preparation of a flavoring agent which shall not contain any alkaloids and, to the extent necessary for such use, may authorize the production, import, export, trade and possession of such plants,” the statement reads. position.

Maywood residents said the chemical plant emits puffs of smoke early in the morning and sometimes late at night.

A local resident who has lived right across from the site since 2003 and who wished to remain anonymous said: “At first I didn’t understand what was going on, but I heard rumors. Early in the morning they release smoke, and sometimes when I walk, it can smell like burning, very strong.

According to him, there is often a police car outside the plant, trucks moving in and out during the day.

Stepan operates the New Jersey facility with two licenses, which it renews each year: one that allows the company to import coca leaves, and one that allows the company to manufacture "other controlled substances."

The chemical company is headquartered in Illinois but operates 20 sites around the world - in South and North America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

According to its website, the Maywood plant is used to make "esters, lubricants, food ingredients and specialty products."

The Hunter Avenue facility manufactures a variety of chemicals and stores over 30 types of hazardous materials.

While little is known about these materials, the company's production of "botanical extract" is likely a reference to coca leaf syrup, sometimes cryptically referred to as "Formula #5".

In 1988, the Associated Press reported that St. Louis-based pharmaceutical giant Mallinckrodt was the only organization in the US allowed to obtain cocaine from Stepan.

Mallinckrodt lists "cocaine hydrochloride", the technical term for powdered cocaine, as available for purchase on its website.

"Cocaine hydrochloride USP CII is available in 5 or 25 gram quantities, but is only for U.S. healthcare professionals," the website says.

The importance of coca leaves in the preparation of Coca-Cola dates back to the invention of the drink by Dr. John Stith Pemberton in the 1880s.

Pemberton, a Georgia biochemist and pharmacist, came up with a unique syrup by mixing coca leaf extract, which was known at the time to contain the increasingly popular cocaine, with caffeinated West African kola nuts.

The syrup could be diluted with soda and sold as a cure for pain and fatigue.

The popularity of Pemberton's drink grew rapidly, and in 1888 his son sold the recipe patent to Georgia businessman Asa Riggs Candler for about $2, equivalent to about $300 today.

Candler founded The Coca-Cola Company to exploit the patent and famously advertised Coke as "Delicious. Refreshing. Exciting. Invigorating."

The business was a huge success and he eventually became mayor of Atlanta.

Although the Coca-Cola Company stopped adding cocaine to the drink at the turn of the XNUMXth century, it continued to use coca leaves for flavor.

In 1903, the company began working with German chemist Dr. Louis Schäfer, who immigrated to the US in 1885, according to his obituary in The Herald-News from New Jersey.

Schaefer founded Maywood Chemical Works, which continued to work closely with federal agencies to import Peruvian coca leaves to his chemical plant in New Jersey.

In 1921, the Harrison Act banned the importation of coca leaves. But a curious exception was included in the law for the Maywood Chemical Works, which could continue to extract cocaine from the leaves.

In 1959, Maywood was bought by Stepan Chemicals, which has been making the flavored extract for Coca-Cola drinks ever since.

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The covert operation has been the subject of much controversy over the years, with some wondering how an exclusive deal could be anti-competitive.

"Coca-Cola's success as the mega-company that it is today is due, at least in part, to the special privileges granted by the government during World War II and the suppression of potential competitors in the early years of Harry Anslinger's anti-drug policy," says a 2016 article. published by the Mises Institute.

Anslinger was a commissioner for the Federal Bureau of Drug Enforcement, which is now essentially the Drug Enforcement Agency, and was at the center of the relationship between The Coca-Cola Company and the government.

"He's notorious in the realm of drug policy as well as law and was really anti-marijuana," Cortez said.

Cortez visited the US National Archives in Maryland and reviewed letters exchanged between Maywood Chemical Works and Anslinger. In them, they conspired to divert the attention of a journalist interfering in their affairs.

"We don't want the publicity that such an article would bring us," Maywood Chemical president M.J. Hartung Anslinger wrote when he learned the journalist wanted to cover their arrangement.

Anslinger responded to Hartung's letter with a note to Ralph Hayes, then Vice President of The Coca-Cola Company, stating: "I agree with you that these articles serve no purpose other than to cause harm."

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