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    Bags of Cocaine Worth $56 Million Are Found at Coca-Cola Factory in France



    Uncovering a drug-smuggling operation with a French connection, workers at a Coca-Cola factory in southern France this week found a huge cache of cocaine worth approximately $56 million in a shipment of orange juice concentrate, according to news reports.

    The factory, which is in the town of Signes, near the Mediterranean coast, produces concentrates for various drinks. A spokesman for Coca-Cola France said that employees notified the police and that the authorities had started an investigation, The Associated Press reported.

    The drug was hidden in bags among a delivery of orange juice concentrate and amounted to 370 kilograms, making it one of the largest such discoveries on French soil, the BBC reported. The shipment arrived in a container from South America.

    The prosecutor of Toulon, Xavier Tarabeux, called the find “a very bad surprise” and said it had a street value of 50 million euros, or about $56 million.

    Employees at the plant have been ruled out as being involved, a Coca-Cola official said. “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.

    Coca leaves were reportedly used in the original Coca-Cola drink in the 19th century, although the company has said cocaine has never been an “added ingredient,” The A.P. said.

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