Police seize drugs at child daycare center - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Police seize drugs at child daycare center

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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:00 am | Updated: 10:43 am, Fri Feb 8, 2013.

SAN JUAN - Police arrested five people and seized nearly a pound of marijuana Monday following a drug raid at a child daycare center.

Police had no idea the three-bedroom home was a daycare until they conducted their raid about 4:30 p.m. and discovered toys, educational materials and a list of conduct rules posted on a wall. No clients were at the location during the operation.

The raid - at Little Ramsey's Educational Center - occurred in what police called a "quiet neighborhood" behind Clover Elementary, near Stewart Road south of Expressway 83.

Investigators said they found prepared bags of marijuana likely intended for distribution and two small bags of cocaine probably intended for personal use.

Police also discovered about 30 white, circular pills in an unmarked container, San Juan Police Investigator Rolando Garcia said. Those pills have not yet been identified.

A total of 11.5 ounces of marijuana was seized from the residence, as well as two cars parked there, Garcia said.

"It's odd," he said. "Selling out of a daycare center is pretty low."

The residence, at 207 Washingtonia Palm Ave., is owned by Melba Martinez, who Garcia said is the mother of one of the suspects, Rito Martinez, 21. She is also the one licensed to run the daycare.

Authorities didn't think she was aware of the drugs.

ANONYMOUS TIP

Police said there were four minors inside the home at the time of the raid, including a teenager who struck an officer.

There was also another teenager, a child about 10 years old and a toddler, Garcia said.

The children are believed to be members of the Martinez family.

Garcia said a state license bearing Melba Martinez's name was posted on a wall in the home, indicating the daycare was last inspected in May.

But according to a search of state records, there is no daycare center licensed at that address.

Garcia said the center does have a city fire inspection permit and a county health permit. The department will likely contact the state tomorrow to discern the status of the daycare license.

Police were led to the house after an anonymous tip Monday.

They first visited the house at 3:30 p.m. but were denied permission to conduct a search, so they left and obtained a search warrant before returning about an hour later, Garcia said.

DRUG-FREE ZONE

In addition to Rito Martinez and the four minors, police say they found his pregnant girlfriend and another young couple also pregnant with a child.

Martinez, his girlfriend, Crystal Flores, 18; the other couple - Gabriel Garza, 24, and his girlfriend, Rosanna Martinez, 18 - were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone, a third-degree felony.

The minor accused of striking the officer was also arrested and charged in connection with the assault. Authorities did not release that suspect's name or age because of the juvenile status.

Garcia said a daycare center is considered a drug-free zone. Even if it turns out it wasn't an active daycare center, though, the house is within 1,000 feet of a school, which also constitutes a drug free zone.

He said if the investigation reveals drugs were sold during business hours while children were present, the charges could be upgraded.

Neither of the men arrested on drug charges was a stranger to law enforcement.

Martinez had an active arrest warrant for a probation violation, Garcia said. And both men were previously arrested on drug charges, he said.

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