TEXAS (WASHINGTON POST) - Sheriff's Deputies in Harris County, Texas, thought they were responding to a routine burglary call until they took a closer look at the car.
It was crammed with so much candy-shaped meth that the suspects had trouble closing the trunk, police said.
They think the alleged burglars were stealing from a suspected drug dealer who'd turned her home into an illicit candy factory, the sheriff's office said on its Facebook page. Authorities hit the mother lode when they went inside: In all, 600 pounds of drug-laced candy with a street value of nearly $1 million.
The meth-pops had been molded into kid-friendly shapes: flowers, butterflies, Batman and the Star Wars characters R2-D2 and Yoda.
"It was just bags and bags and bags of what appeared to be candy lollipops," Lt Ruben Diaz, with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, told the Houston Chronicle. He said the meth-pops "appear to us designed to target children", although he did not detail the department's rationale for the claim. However, experts said drugs made to look like candy often aren't meant for children at all.
Evonne Mick, 38, and David Salinas, 26, were charged with possession of a controlled substance. Mick's bail was set at US$1 million, the Chronicle reported.
A picture of the meth lab's messy kitchen was part Willy Wonka, part The Wire, with corn syrup, pots and funnels interspersed with measuring devices and chemicals.
Around the house, investigators found molds and dozens of plastic bags full of candy that had been stashed in buckets and pillowcases.
Nearly complete meth pops sat cooling in plastic containers.
Investigators told reporters they think the drugs were intended to be sold outside Harris County.
Meth is a versatile drug that can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked, according to a DEA fact sheet.
Bill Piper, the senior director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes reforming state and federal drug laws, said turning the meth into candy may be more about smuggling than marketing it to children.
"It's easy for people to fall for this marketing to children because there's this misconception that drug dealers are standing on the street corner handing out free drugs," he told The Washington Post. "Adults don't want nasty-tasting stuff either. We especially find in the flavoured meth, a lot of that turned out to be flavouring for adults."
Turning meth into candy also makes the drug easier to transport and smuggle, he said. Yoda-shaped lollipops are a lot more innocuous-looking than methamphetamine in crystal form.
Snopes has debunked previous rumours about marketing to children, saying that although police have seized versions of crystal meth that resembled candy, there's no evidence that their intended target was children.