Do you remember the joy of vending machine toys as a child? You put in your quarter, twist the knob, and out would come a brightly colored plastic capsule. Inside that capsule could be anything! (Well, anything that would fit inside a small capsule, that is.) You might get a temporary tattoo, or a plastic army man, or some silly putty. The mystery of what was inside was part of its great appeal. But one family in California was shocked when, earlier this week, a little boy deposited his quarter and was delivered a capsule filled with illegal drugs. Read on to hear what was inside and what police are doing about it.
When a little boy in Bell Gardens, California, received a squishy stress ball from a restaurant vending machine, he was delighted. He played with the ball happily when all of a sudden it burst open and white powder spilled out. His mother immediately called the police.
“While her son was playing with the putty-ball toy, it ruptured, and a white powdery substance came out,” according to police Detective Miguel Torres.
Officers tested the white powder from the boy’s toy ball and found that it was cocaine. Now officials in this California town are investigating a possible drug trafficking scheme using vending machine toys.
The toy in question, purchased for a quarter from Taqueria Los Altos restaurant in Bell Gardens, prompted police to investigate further. They included the following information in a press release issued earlier this week:
“During the investigation, the white powder tested positive for cocaine. A total of 136 grams of cocaine (4.8 ounces) was recovered and removed for the public’s safety. The phone number on the vending machine, 562-261-6983, returns to a ‘SNACK TIME VENDING.’ If any local businesses are using this company’s toy/candy vending machines, please contact us immediately and remove them from public access.”
“We contracted with this company for the past couple years, but no way are we affiliated with this company. We only lease the location to the company,” restaurant spokesman Alfredo Sanchez said.
An unnamed representative from the vending machine company told the Los Angeles Times in a statement, “We’re getting a bad rap.”
Police do not currently believe that the restaurant nor the vending machine company are involved in the drug trafficking scheme. But restaurant patrons were shocked to hear the news that a young boy had so easily been dispensed these powerful and harmful drugs.
“It was weird because usually me and my sister get toys, well like sometimes, and then when I heard about it, I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to get some anymore,'” Denali Segura said.
Candace Mahan said she was upset by the incident. “These are kids, small kids that come in here looking for these stuff in the machines,” Mahan said.
Police have reported that the ball in question had a smiley face on it and that the machine in question has been removed from the restaurant.
What do you think of this story? Will it keep you from allowing your children to get toys from vending machines? Who do you think should be held responsible for putting cocaine in the hands of a child? Share your opinion in the comments section.