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Stepan Company in Maywood has an exclusive federal license to import coca leaves into the US and manufacture cocaine

Stepan Company imported between 56 and 588 metric tons of coca per year, primarily from Peru but also from Bolivia.



The Stepan Company, a chemical manufacturer, operates a discreet chemical processing plant located in a peaceful New Jersey neighborhood.

This plant holds an exclusive license to import coca leaves into the United States on behalf of The Coca-Cola Company.

The leaves are used to create a ‘decocainized’ ingredient that is used in the famous soda, while the leftover cocaine byproduct is sold to the country’s leading opioid manufacturer.

This manufacturer markets the powder as a numbing agent and topical anesthetic for dentists. The Maywood facility has been processing coca leaves for Coca-Cola for over a century, and it continues to do so today.

Under special licenses issued by the DEA, Stepan Company is the sole US-based company authorized to import coca leaves and manufacture cocaine.

Recently, on January 30th of this year, the company successfully renewed its petition to continue importing the controlled substance into the US. Although the DEA did not provide details to regarding the amount of coca the company imports, it was previously reported in the 1980s that over 500 metric tons of leaves could be processed at the plant in a single year.

This amount of leaves has the potential to produce around two million grams of cocaine, which, according to online pharmaceutical company listings, could be valued at approximately $2 billion.

In the late 1980s, government officials and Coca-Cola eventually disclosed most of the information available about the confidential agreement. According to The New York Times at the time, Stepan Company imported between 56 and 588 metric tons of coca per year, primarily from Peru but also from Bolivia.

Ricardo Cortés, an illustrator and author of the book “A Secret History of Coffee, Coca and Cola,” has chronicled the history of the iconic beverage and the company’s exclusive rights to process the coca plant in the United States. Cortés obtained records from the Peruvian state-owned company, National Company of the Coca, which stated that between 45 and 104 tons of leaves were exported to Maywood each year from 2007 to 2010.

According to Cortés, “They’re the quintessential American brand, but they don’t want to be associated with the drug trade. They’re essentially doing a refined version of what’s happening in the Bolivian jungle.”

The coca leaf, which is used as a source for cocaine and is illegally manufactured in certain parts of South America, including Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. It has been illegal to import the leaves into the United States since 1921.

Nevertheless, The Coca-Cola Company, which is now valued at approximately $265 billion, has freely imported this ‘controlled substance’ for over a century. Despite government efforts to restrict the coca plant, the company has miraculously avoided any limitations.

The provision stated in Article 27 of the United Nations’ 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which placed strict regulations on the cultivation of coca bushes, made very specific exemptions.

The article reads, “The Parties may permit 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 permit the production, import, export, trade in and possession of such leaves.” As for the chemical facility in Maywood, residents have reported that it emits plumes of smoke early in the morning and occasionally at night, according to statements made to