BELL GARDENS (CBSLA.com) — A mother and her young son made a disturbing discovery when a toy they purchased from a Bell Gardens restaurant vending machine turned out to contain cocaine, police said.
A squishy ball in a plastic container similar to a stress ball was purchased about 9:30 p.m. Monday from a gumball-type machine at Taqueria Los Altos at 6939 Eastern Ave., according to Bell Gardens police Detective Miguel Torres.
“While her son was playing with the putty-ball toy, it ruptured and a white powdery substance came out,” Torres said, adding that the mother then called police.
Officers showed up with a drug-testing kit. They ran the powder through it, and it came back as cocaine, and a total of 136 grams (4.8 ounces) of the drug were removed and recovered, according to the detective.
Detectives on the case told CBS2/KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen that amount of cocaine is not a small amount.
“It was weird because me and my sister get toys sometimes. and then when I heard about it, I was like I’m not going to get them anymore,” said one restaurant customer.
Customer Candace Mahan called the incident upsetting.
“These are kids, small kids coming in here looking for stuff in the machines,” added Mahan.
Police said the machine belongs to a company called Snack Time Vending.
Detectives don’t think that the restaurant or the vending company are involved. They are investigating how the cocaine got into the machine.
“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,” said Alfredo Sanchez, the restaurant’s spokesman.
Police said the ball had a smiley face on it and that they want to warn parents of children who might buy items from these types of machines. Police said that the machine in question has been removed from the restaurant.
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