Police Say Cocaine in Vending Machine Ball was a False Positive

Police recently investigated a disturbing discovery in Bell Gardens, Calif. A mother purchased a small, squishy ball with a smiley face (similar to a stress-relief ball) from a vending machine at a Taqueria Los Altos restaurant. After her son played with his new toy for a bit, it ruptured and a white powder came out of it. The boy’s mother called the police, who arrived on the scene with a drug-testing kit.

According to CBS Los Angeles,

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.


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.

But in an odd turn of events, further testing of the mysterious white powder indicated that the substance was not cocaine after all. This news emerged only after it was initially made public that the toy contained cocaine. According to CBS News:

Police say the powder resembles baking soda or talcum powder. The actual substance has yet to be determined.

Restaurant employees told CBS Los Angeles they lost business for two days when the public thought the company might be connected to drugs. They hope things will return to normal now that authorities have clarified results of the drug test.

Police caution parents to be aware of what children are playing with, especially when they retrieve toys from such machines. But in this case, the media might have jumped the gun on reporting incomplete information, thereby harming the reputation of a small, local business.