Back when Coca-Cola was first introduced in 1886, the popular soft drink featured cocaine as one of its key ingredients due to the use of coca leaf from Peru. Now, in 2016, it's possible that the company could be going back to that recipe (not really), as workers at a factory in southern France this week uncovered a huge cache of cocaine worth approximately $56 million in a shipment of orange juice concentrate from South America.
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The Coca-Cola factory, located in a village of Signes, produces concentrates for the company's various drinks. Following the discovery on Tuesday, the workers notified judicial police in Marseilles, who have since launched an investigation.
The cocaine was hidden in bags among a delivery of orange juice concentrate and amounted to 370 kg, making it one of the largest seizures of the illegal substance on French soil in history. Earlier this year, another 370 kg cache of cocaine was discovered in a shipping container in the port of Le Havre.
A seizure off the coast of Martinique last year marked a national record when French customs uncovered a staggering 1995.81 kg of cocaine from a sailboat.
The drugs have a market value of around €50 million ($56 million), according to prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux, who called the discovery a "bad surprise."
An investigation into "trafficking and importing illegal drugs" is underway, and authorities, who are working to find the origin of the drugs, have already determined that the employees at the Coca-Cola plant had no involvement in the incident.
"The first elements of the investigation have shown that employees are in no way involved," Jean-Denis Malgras, the company's regional president, told the news website Var-Matin.
This is the second major drug bust to occur this week. On Sunday, three passengers oboard the Sea Princess cruise ship were arrested in Australia after authorities found $30 million worth of cocaine stashed away in their luggage. The three had boarded the ship in England in early July, but it's unclear which port they used to transport the drugs. In the end, however, all three are facing life sentences.
Contrary to the cruise ship arrests, there has been no such luck following the Coca-Cola incident. However, authorities do at least know that there is a French connection that links the shipment to its intended recipient.