Toddler joins daddy at cocaine deal gone wrong

So... you and your pals are slinging marijuana and cocaine, and you're scheduled to make an exchange with a buyer. What do you bring with you? The product? Check. A gun? Check. Anything else?

Oh yeah: A fourteen-month-old girl.

That's the allegation made against four Colorado Springs men in regard to a coke bust last night. In the end, seven people were arrested on charges ranging from unlawful distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance to child abuse -- because the infant was in the same car as a loaded .25 caliber handgun.

Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Al Harmon, assigned to the vice, narcotics and intelligence unit, provides the basics:

"We'd set up a coke deal with this guy" -- Jacob Paladino, twenty -- "for an ounce of coke. We arranged to meet at a McDonald's parking lot. He comes pulling in along with a second car we didn't expect. But the people in the two cars were obviously together. They parked together."

According to Harmon, Paladino and Joshua Morgan, twenty, were in one vehicle, while Jeremy Madrid, nineteen, and David Arthur, twenty-two, were in the other -- along with Arthur's fourteen-month-old daughter.

After that, Harmon continues, "Paladino does the transaction with our undercover detective, and we take all four guys into custody." At that point, officers discovered that Arthur had some marijuana and a pipe with him -- presumably because it made combining babysitting with other activities more relaxing -- while Morgan had the aforementioned loaded gun.

The CSP subsequently obtained warrants for two other residences, where they made three more arrests and collected a potpourri of cocaine, marijuana plants and additional weapons.

Kids and drug busts seem to be going together more frequently of late. Note our posts about the eleven-year-old who shot himself in the foot while guarding his parents' marijuana grow, the ten-month-old who was hospitalized after ingesting marijuana edibles -- and who can forget the teen arrested for selling his father's medical marijuana at middle school.

Harmon confirms that CSP personnel have been seeing similar incidents. And he believes the increasing mainstreaming of marijuana, in particular, brings its own set of risks. "We've been in a bunch of different grows where we'll find kids toys, or we'll find the grow right next to the kid's room, or in the same room," he notes. "And if it's not being properly vented and grown, with mold and those kinds of things, that can really present dangers to children."

So, too, can bringing Junior to a drug transaction. "There've been a couple of occasions where we've done undercover deals where people have brought their kids," Harmon says. "They'll be sitting in the backseat of the car -- in this case, in a child seat. And that definitely doesn't look good when you go to court.

"Granted, in this case, they didn't know they'd be dealing to the cops -- but that's exactly what happened. We had a tactical enforcement unit ready to take these guys down, and all of a sudden we find that, in addition to the four adults, there's a fourteen-month-old in the backseat. I mean, dang. Parents are supposed to be smarter than their kids."

Here's more details about the bust, courtesy of the CSP:

Incident Date: March 31, 2010

Time :11:00:00 AM

Title: Narcotics-Vice Activity

Location: 535 Airport Creek Pt, 335 Vehr Dr., and 1314 Clemson Dr.

Summary: On Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at approximately 11:00AM, detectives assigned to Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence completed an investigation into the distribution of cocaine and marijuana, when members of the Tactical Enforcement Unit, arrested four subjects after they delivered one ounce of cocaine to an undercover detective in the parking lot of the McDonald's Resturant located at 535 Airport Creek Pt. The four subjects arrived at the location operating two seperate vehicles. Jacob Paladino and Joshua Morgan arrived in one vehicle, while Jeremy Madrid and David Arthur arrived in the second vehicle. After Paladino completed the transaction, the four suspects were taken into custody. When contacted, Arthur had a small amount of marijuana and a marijuana pipe in his lap. Arthur had also brought his 14 month old daughter to the transaction. Madrid who was a passenger in the vehicle occupied by the infant female was in possession of a loaded .25 caliber handgun. Paladino and Morgan were charged with Unlawful Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, Cocaine. Arthur was charged with Child Abuse and Unlawful Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, cocaine and Madrid was charged with Child Abuse and Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. Three of the four subjects were booked into the Criminal Justice Center.

Subsequent search warrants were executed at 335 Vehr Dr, Apt 3, Paladino's residence and 1314 Clemson Dr. At the Vehr Dr,residence,detectives seized 77.3 grams of marijuana and $1,084 in currency. At the Clemson Dr residence, detectives contacted and arrested Jessie Anaya, for Conspiracy to Unlawfully Distribute a Schedule II Controlled Substance, Rochelle Trujillo, for Unlawful Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance and Tammy Arellano for 3 unrelated felony and 2 misdemeanor warrants. Detectives also seized 15.1 grams of cocaine, 14 marijuana plants, a .22 caliber handgun and .20 gauge shotgun along with $3669.00 in currency. All three subjects were booked into the Criminal Justice Center.

During this case, detectives seized 81.0 grams of cocaine valued at $8,100.00, 165 grams of marijuana valued at 824.00,14 marijuana plants valued at $14,000, $4,753.00 in US currency, 3 firearms and two vehicles.

Adults Arrested:

Paladino, Jacob -- 20yoa Morgan, Joshua -- 20yoa Madrid, Jeremy --19yoa Arthur, David -- 22yoa Anaya, Jessie -- 26yoa Trujillo, Rochelle -- 23yoa Arellano, Tammy -- 42yoa

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts