Prosecutors in California say that a 48-year-old man sold cocaine from a home-based day care center he ran with his wife. The unlicensed Highland Park facility accepted children as young as 2 years of age according to reports. In addition to facing a raft of criminal charges, the man has been named as a defendant in a civil nuisance lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. The office is seeking an injunction to close the daycare center down as well as costs and monetary penalties.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer admitted during a press conference that authorities had known about drug sales taking place at the day care facility for at least two years, and he was unable to explain why action had not been taken sooner. Law enforcement seized 20 kilograms of cocaine from the facility when they took the man into custody in 2015, and another 20 kilograms of the drug were discovered on May 25 when officers with the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force searched the residence. The seized drugs are said to have a street value of more than $400,000.
According to police reports, the search warrant was granted after an undercover officer visited the premises and bought drugs from the man. Authorities say that they launched the undercover operation after receiving a tip from a confidential informant. The undercover officer claims that he observed young children playing in the front yard when he arrived to complete the drug buy.
The sentences for selling narcotics can be severe in California, but proving drug charges beyond all reasonable doubt is not always straightforward for prosecutors. Juries can be unpredictable and criminal trials are expensive, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may urge prosecutors to accept a guilty plea to a reduced charge in return for a swift conclusion.