I went to law school at the University of Kentucky in the early part of the '70s. For those that don't know, it's located in Lexington, Kentucky, a lovely bit of geography if you like rolling hills, white fences, large mansions and thoroughbred horses. All picture perfect.
One of my classmates, actually two of them, were named Andrew Thornton. The first Andrew Thornton, the one this story is not about, was an inoffensive type. Wrote a letter to the editor of the student newspaper complaining about how smokers were trashy because they left their butts and ashes everywhere without regard to cleaning up after themselves. He, of course, was marginalized, because this was the center of tobacco production. There were tobacco warehouses and drying barns w/in blocks of the law school. During certain times of the year you couldn't escape the smell. But cigarettes were 35 cents a pack, and practically everyone smoked, so nobody paid attention to that Andrew Thornton.
The second Andrew Thornton, or Drew, as he liked to be called, was a former police officer from Fayette County (Lexington's County) on the narcotics task force. Drew was not someone that I tended to gravitate around for many reasons, chief among them his law enforcement background. Turns out Drew had been high society Lexington, his family was in the Blue Book that listed only the top names, and he had gone to Sayre School, the private school for those of a certain class. How he ended up in law enforcement, I do not know. But what came clear a few years later, was that Drew did not leave his narc background behind. He started dealing in drugs at some point, probably during his law school career and used his connections to help his career. Several years after graduation from law school he had a huge network built up where he and those who worked for him were regularly importing huge amounts of cocaine up from Mexico and/or South America. There's a badly written book out there about his story titled The Bluegrass Conspiracy. Although, the writing is execrable, the gist of the story is true. Drew was able to convert or subvert law enforcement through out the Commonwealth of Kentucky so that he could run his drug business.
However, this being Kentucky, things can and do have a tendency to go badly wrong. As they did for Drew. Seems that Drew's preferred mo was to fly a plane up from S. America or Mexico w/ large bales of cocaine, each with a parachute and transponder attached for ease of recovery. Then at pre-arranged locations, the bales were pushed out of the plane, the parachutes opened and voila, instant mega cash. Drew would jump out at the last minute, put the plane on automatic pilot directed into the Appalachian or Smoky mountains, the plane would crash in wilderness presumably, and Drew would be laughing all the way to the bank.
Until his last flight, when Drew jumped out strapped to a bale of cocaine. Turns out that the combination was too much for the parachute, which couldn't take the excess weight and collapsed. Drew 'bought the farm' so to speak on someone's driveway in eastern Tennessee or western Carolina. The plane crashed into the mountains further east. The authorities, finally driven to investigate after the homeowner put in a complaint, found the plane and located some of the cocaine bales. Well at least one. It was also up in the woods. It had been opened by a bear, who had engorged himself on the contents and died nearby shortly afterward.
Drew Thornton, a sterling example of Lexington's finest in law and in law enforcement.