A Wisconsin mother searching for a late-night snack in her child's trick-or-treat bag was shocked to find a small packet of methamphetamine among the sweets, authorities said.
The mother contacted Menominee Tribal Police and told them she'd found the small, yellow bag containing a crystal powder after dumping her child's Halloween candy onto a table. The police came to her home, on the Menominee Indian Reservation, and picked up the substance. It tested positive for methamphetamine, said Master Sergeant Warren Warrington.
The child did not ingest any of the powder, he said, in the 1.3cm wide by 1.3cm long zip-top bag.
"That's always a possibility, though, with Ziplock bags or any storage container subject to leakage," he said. "A plastic container is not the most secure way to store any hazardous substance."
Police are investigating how the packet landed in the child's Halloween candy bag and say it slipped in Sunday evening. Sunday was the designated trick-or-treating time in Keshena, Wisconsin, as it was a "safer day to have the goblins running around town", as Halloween this year falls on a weeknight, Warrington said. Keshena is on the reservation, about 260km north of Milwaukee.
It is not clear whether the packet was placed among the child's candy intentionally or by mistake, Warrington said. No suspects have yet been linked to the meth.
The mother's drug discovery comes at a time when parents across the US are concerned about their children's Halloween candy being laced with drugs. Officials nationwide have issued dire warnings to parents about the alleged threat of marijuana-laced candy in kids' trick-or-treat bags - despite there being no documented cases of kids being poisoned by pot candy during Halloween. A Washington Post analysis found that pot candy is a popular boogeyman for law-enforcement officials and media outlets looking for a scare story.
Halloween candy panic made headlines in 2014, when the country's first recreational marijuana shops opened in Colorado and Washington state. Edible products like candy were widely popular among marijuana consumers and made up nearly half of all legal marijuana sales in Colorado that year, according to the Denver Post. But with pot candy's popularity came problems, too, such as stories of children accidentally eating a pot brownie or candy, according to the newspaper.
Fears have been further driven by public officials, such as the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, which last week warned parents to check for marijuana-infused candy in their children's trick-or-treat bags. The advisory mentioned a 10-year-old boy in New York who went to the emergency room after accidentally eating marijuana gummies. But the gummies weren't Halloween candy, and a state spokesman declined to list specific cases or evidence of Halloween-related instances of drug poisoning when questioned by the Associated Press.
The Wisconsin meth find appears to be one of a kind. It's unclear to Menominee officials whether it was an isolated find or a more widespread, intentional event, Warrington said. Most people, however, don't seem interested in harming children on Halloween - a review of "Halloween Sadism" by University of Delaware sociologist Joel Best found that reports of deliberate harm via Halloween candy were rare and that most of the reports were either hoaxes or not actually linked to candy.
But to be on the safe side, Menominee Tribal Police have asked parents to drop off the candy that children collected Sunday and their trick-or-treat bags at Keshena Veterans Park or Neopit Fire Station between 8am and 5pm Tuesday (local time).
"We'd rather have whatever was collected removed from circulation," Warrington said.
Children will also get a second chance to trick-or-treat on the campus of the College of Menominee Nation, from 5 to 7pm, according to the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin's website.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, in its list of Halloween health and safety tips, warns families and children to examine Halloween candy for choking hazards and tampering, to eat only factory-wrapped treats and to avoid eating homemade treats offered by strangers. The list does not explicitly mention the risk of obtaining drugs or drug-laced candy while trick-or-treating.
The CDC also encourages children and adults to eat snacks in moderation, as does the Food and Drug Administration, which is particularly advising people 40 and older to limit their consumption of black licorice. Eating 50g of black licorice a day for at least two weeks, FDA officials said, could cause irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.