A powdery substance that came out of a children's toy caused a stir after field tests indicated it was cocaine.
But one problem: It wasn't.
Bell Gardens police say a mother bought the squishy smiley-face ball for the boy from a taqueria Monday night. They were called when the toy broke and white powder came out.
“While her son was playing with the putty-ball toy, it ruptured and a white powdery substance came out,” Bell Gardens police Detective Miguel Torres told KCBS.
Cops showed up with drug testing supplies and the mother's worst fears were initially confirmed. What looked like a simple, innocuous toy was full of the potentially dangerous drug.
Or so they thought.
"Out of an abundance of caution and concern for community members, especially small children who may come in contact with these toys, we made a public notification via Facebook and Twitter as well as local media outlets of a potential health risk, as we continued to investigate," police said in a statement.
The statement continued:
"Further investigation has been conducted by detectives of the Bell Gardens Police Department on this case and it has been determined that the original testing performed on the substance revealed a ‘false positive’ test for cocaine."
Bell Gardens police distributed close-up photos of the plastic gumball-machine style containers and balloons they thought contained cocaine.
"We are, however, confident that it is not cocaine nor does it pose a health risk," cops said.
Despite the shock and fear produced by the false positive, Bell Gardens police maintain that both the mother and officers did the right thing.
"It is always a good practice to continue to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police department," their statement said.