A man in Los Angeles is being accused of using a daycare as a front to traffic large amounts of cocaine.
Have you ever dropped your kids off at daycare and thought, “Hey I wonder if this is just a front for a major drug operation?” Probably not, but now you might second guess it.
According to the Associated Press, Felipe Talamante was trafficking dozens of pounds of cocaine out of a house that was also functioning as an unlicensed day care center for children of all ages.
On Tuesday, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer said young children were literally playing and sleeping right next to large amounts of cocaine.
“The cocaine was allegedly found in a room next to a child’s bed,” Feuer said, describing a scene with “kids taking naps, or playing, and cocaine is right there.”
Police arrested Talamante (48) at the same house two years ago for allegedly possessing 20 kilograms of cocaine, according to the city attorney’s office. However, that case was not prosecuted, Feuer said.
Earlier this year in May, undercover investigators met with Talamante to arrange the sale of 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of cocaine, but investigators noticed several children playing in the home’s front yard, according to a federal criminal complaint filed this month.
Officers conducted surveillance of the house and “observed children of all ages being picked up and dropped off at Felipe’s residence,” the court documents said. Authorities obtained a search warrant and seized more than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) of cocaine that Talamante had bragged to an informant was “straight from Mexico,” the documents said.
Officials said the drugs were worth more than $400,000. Police arrested Talamante on May 17 on suspicion of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Talamante’s arraignment is scheduled for July 16.
Talamante’s 19-year-old son, Miguel Talamante, was also taken into police custody and could also face drug charges. An arraignment for the son was not announced.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is investigating whether or not any children were harmed at the home. The day care was operated by Talamante’s wife, who was not arrested.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Feuer said he has filed a separate lawsuit asking a judge to declare the property a public nuisance and take it away from Talamante, who could then be banned from the location for a year.
Feuer’s lawsuit is also seeking to keep Talamante from operating any day care center in the city and force him to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Feuer also said he is focusing on Talamante’s alleged high-level ties to a Mexican drug cartel.