Vatican City Cocaine Bust
German authorities have seized some cocaine that was making its way to the Vatican, according to a report released today.
According to Fox News, it wasn’t the cocaine that raised German authorities’ eyebrows — it was the fact that it was going to the Vatican.
Officers at Leipzig airport found 12 ounces of the drug packed into 14 condoms inside a shipment of cushions coming from South America. The package was simply addressed to the Vatican postal office, meaning any of the Catholic mini-state’s 800 residents could have picked it up.
Citing a German customs report, the paper adds that a sting operation arranged with Vatican police didn’t lure a possible recipient. The drugs have a street value of several tens of thousands of euros (dollars). Neither German customs nor the Vatican could be immediately reached for comment.
Vin Mariani was a tonic and patent medicine created circa 1863 by Angelo Mariani, a French chemist who became intrigued with coca and its economic potential after reading Paolo Mantegazza’s paper on coca’s effects.
The ethanol in the wine acted as a solvent and extracted the cocaine from the coca leaves, altering the drink’s effect. It originally contained 6 mg of cocaine per fluid ounce of wine, but the Vin Mariani that was to be exported contained 7.2 mg per ounce, in order to compete with the higher cocaine content of similar drinks in the United States. Advertisements for Vin Mariani claimed that it would restore health, strength, energy, and vitality.
Vin Mariani was very popular in its day, even among royalty such as Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland. Pope Leo XIII and later Pope Saint Pius X were both Vin Mariani drinkers. Pope Leo awarded a Vatican gold medal to the wine, and also appeared on a poster endorsing it.