13-Year-Old in Custody After Bringing Balloons Full of Cocaine to School

Around 8:40 a.m. September 14th, two students at Carl F. Smith Middle school in Terra Bella found what appeared to be two balloons on the playground of the school grounds. The deflated balloons, similar to drug bindle packaging, had a white powdery substance inside and outside the packaging. The students immediately notified school staff, who called the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. The Department responded immediately with multiple resources.

When deputies arrived, they did a “presumptive test” on the white substance, and it tested positive for cocaine. An ambulance crew was called to the school and conducted field evaluations on 13 children who were potentially exposed and all of those results came back negative.

Two of those children were taken to the hospital as a precaution only. The parents of those students have been notified.

A Tulare County Sheriff’s Office K9 Deputy, along with his handler, were called out the scene and the K9 alerted deputies to the area where the balloons had originally been found.

A 13-year-old male student was identified and is being detained as the individual who brought the balloons to the school. Our K9 also alerted deputies to that boy’s shorts, which ended up testing positive for drugs. We found the point of origin for the drugs at his home and a search warrant is being written. Right now, that 13-year-old is being interviewed by detectives.

TAGNET (Tulare Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team) was called out to assume the investigation. They also performed a “presumptive test” on the white substance, which, again, tested positive for cocaine.

The TCSO Drone, as well as personnel, did a search of the campus and found no other evidence of drugs. Deputies walked the campus and a narcotics K9 went room to room.

Students at Carl F. Smith Middle School are in grades 6-8. Almost 300 children attend the school.

Their greatest concern is for the safety of the children. The Sheriff has made phone calls to the Superintendent and the Principal to reassure them that the Department is committed to making sure students are safe both in and out of school.

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