'Cocaine' found in vending machine toy not drugs after all, Calif. police say

BELL GARDENS, Calif.  (CBS LA) —  A child’s toy found in a vending machine that initially tested positive for drugs had no cocaine inside it, officials said Wednesday.

On Monday, a concerned parent reported to police that their child retrieved a toy from a vending machine at Taqueria Los Altos, a restaurant in Bell Gardens.

While her child was playing with the toy, it ruptured and a white powdery substance — about 5 grams — spilled out.

Police in Bell Gardens reported the substance tested positive for cocaine. In all, about 135 grams (4.8 ounces) was confiscated.

Authorities alerted the public via social media about the potential health risk.

Further investigation revealed the initial testing revealed a “false positive.”

Police located the toy vendor. The powder resembles talcum powder or baking soda. The actual substance is yet to be officially determined.

The substance, whatever it is, has been deemed harmless.

At the restaurant, a staple in the community for 27 years, it was business as usual Wednesday evening.

“We feel relieved since we were getting bad reviews,” said Edgar Ramirez, the owner’s nephew.

Ramirez told KCAL 9’s Andrea Fujii they lost business when the public thought they might be connected to drugs.

“My uncle was stressed out,” says Ramirez. “We lost clients for two days because they thought my uncle was involved in coke and all that.”

Ramirez says his uncle hopes everyone can now move on.

“Everything goes through social media,” Ramirez said, “and people are going to be seeing ‘Oh, this restaurant sells coke.’ But they may not see the positive review now that it was all fake.”

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