NJ factory imports cocaine plant for Coca-Cola under DEA agreement

I guess you really can’t beat reality.

Coca-Cola gets its iconic flavor in part thanks to a chemical processing plant in a sleepy New Jersey neighborhood that holds the country’s only license to import the plant, which is used to make cocaine.

The Maywood facility, now managed by the Stepan Company, has been processing coca leaves for the soft drink giant for more than a century and earlier this year had its license renewed by the Drug Enforcement Agency to import it.

The coca leaves are used to make a “decocainized” ingredient for the soda, and the leftover by-product is sold to opioid manufacturing company Mallinckrodt, which uses the powder to make a narcotic for dentists, DailyMail reported.

It is unclear how much coca the Stepan Company imports annually, although The New York Times reported in 1988 that it imported between 56 and 588 tons of coca leaf from Peru and Bolivia each year, citing DEA figures.

coca leaves
The Stepan Company of Maywood, New Jersey has the country’s only license to import bulk shipments of coca leaf used in the manufacture of cocaine.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

A ton of coca leaf costs over $5,500 in Peru, so the Stepan Company would pay between $308,000 and $3.2 million to ship the illegal leaves, according to agribusiness Selina Wamucii, if the amount it imports has remained constant over the decades.

Ricardo Cortés, author of 2012’s “A Secret History of Coffee, Coca, and Cola,” wrote that he received records from the National Company of the Coca, a Peruvian state-owned company, showing that up to 104 tons Coca leaves were exported to Maywood every year between 2007 and 2010.

The import of coca leaves was banned in 1921, but legislation allowed an exception for Maywood Chemical Works, which operated the plant before the Stepan Company bought the property in 1959.

Coca-Cola on a shelf
The Maywood plant has been processing coca leaves for Coca-Cola for more than a century.
Jeffrey Greenberg/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Meanwhile, the legal exemption the factory received helped the Coca-Cola brand grow into the massive, globally recognized company it is today, valued at around $265 billion.

“Coca-Cola’s success as the mega-corporation it is today is due at least in part to special privileges granted by the government during World War II and the repression of potential competitors in the early years of Harry Anslinger’s anti-drug Politics. ‘ wrote Australian economics think tank Mises Institute in a 2016 article.

Anslinger was a former chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics between 1930 and 1962 and is widely credited as an early proponent of the War on Drugs, which played an important role in the federal criminalization of marijuana.

Stepan company
The Stepan Company processes the coca leaves to flavor Coca-Cola.
Google Earth

Cortés wrote in a 2016 blog post that he visited the National Archives and saw letters between Anslinger and Maywood Chemical Works, which joined forces to deflect a Life Magazine reporter’s story about the importation of coca leaves.

“We do not desire the publicity that such an article might bring us,” wrote MJ Hartung, president of Maywood Chemical, to Anslinger in 1949.

The next year, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics filed an internal memo on the matter.

“Less publicity of articles about coca leaf and narcotics will be better for the public,” the July 1950 memo said, calling previous coverage of the subject unsatisfactory.

https://nypost.com/2023/04/01/nj-factory-imports-cocaine-plant-for-coca-cola-due-to-dea-arrangement/ NJ factory imports cocaine plant for Coca-Cola under DEA agreement


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing diza@ustimetoday.com.

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