Drugs and guns found inside L.A. Daycare

by Gordon Tokumatsu

A stash of guns and drugs has been confiscated from inside a Los Angeles daycare.

The 47-year-old woman who ran the day care center in the Boyle Heights neighborhood was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs.

Police seized 14 kilograms of cocaine, pot, guns, and $300,000 in cash from her operation.

Maria Castellon was booked on suspicion of possessing cocaine for resale and locked up in lieu of more than $2 million bail, according to Los Angeles police Lt. Paul Vernon of the Central Station.

If she is able to post bail, she will have to prove the money did not come from illegal activities, according to Vernon.

Detectives acting on a tip got a search warrant, and raided the facility in a Boyle Heights duplex.

"We found more in that house than we even expected," Vernon said. "In addition to the cocaine, marijuana, and guns, the detectives noticed a city permit for daycare posted on the wall."

Aside from the cocaine valued at $252,000, detectives seized 50 pounds of pot valued at $20,000, $300,000 in cash, a semiautomatic rifle classified as an "assault weapon" and three loaded handguns from the unit where the city permit was hanging, police said.
Vernon said the operation catered to the Skid Row area, just across of the Los Angeles River.

"The seizure illustrates the draw the Skid Row market has for drug dealers," he said.

"The persons involved here do not appear to be related to gangs, but they have a big operation that was intended for an open market."

Two children of Castellon's daughter-in-law, both younger than five, were in the unit with their mother when police showed up to search the place, Vernon said.