"The Company" Drug Smuggling Ring
Nothing but Trouble
In 1977, 24-year-old Melanie Flynn disappeared, last seen walking along a busy Lexington street. She was never seen again. Melanie had been the girlfriend of Bill Canan, a former narcotics officer who was a good friend of Thornton's, whom he had met while working for the Lexington Police Department. Canan was also a member of "The Company."
Those who had known Melanie claimed that she had spent a great deal of time with Thornton and his associates prior to her disappearance. Many suspected foul play, even though there was no evidence that she'd been murdered. Nonetheless, rumors spread that she likely had been killed because she knew too much about "The Company's" shady dealings. The rumors brought unwelcome attention to Thornton, who at the time was dealing with other problems.
Bryant and Thornton's business relationship had reached a critical point: they had found that they were at opposite ends of the spectrum on the questions of the direction they wanted to take their expanding business and who would be involved. Bryant had developed plans to ally with international drug kingpins Lee and Jimmy Chagra, who allegedly ran "the country's largest heroine, cocaine, marijuana and firearms distribution center," Denton wrote. Bryant believed that a merger between the two enterprises would expand The Company's business significantly and lead to even bigger profits.
Thornton, though, was far from happy with the idea of joining forces with the brothers. The two were known to be ruthless and, worse yet, they had attracted the attention of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The Chagra brothers just seemed like bad news to Thornton, yet against his better judgment he agreed to the merger of the two outfits. According to Dunne, "it wouldn't take long before the Chagras and their violent ways would start to tear 'The Company' apart and put it on everyone's 'Most Wanted' list."