04/27/2006

Kindergartner leads Calif. police to meth lab

The Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. - A 5-year-old boy riding his bicycle alone in rush-hour traffic led police to a methamphetamine lab, authorities said.

A patrol officer spotted the kindergartner Wednesday evening and drove him home so he could speak with the child's parents, said Sgt. David Cannan, a Long Beach Police Department spokesman.

While the officer talked to the boy's grandmother in front of the house, the child's father bolted out of a back window, Cannan said.

"It turned out what he was running from was a meth lab in the home," he said.

Police tracked down the father, Brian Lopez, 24, and arrested him for investigation of manufacturing a controlled substance, parole violations and on a warrant for driving with a suspended license, said Long Beach police Officer Skip Kerr.

The grandmother, Antonette Cora Zabica, 52, was arrested for investigation of child cruelty and manufacturing a controlled substance, he said.

Another man found in the house, Patrick Crandell, 55, was arrested for investigation of manufacturing and sales of a controlled substance.

Zabica was being held on $100,000 bail while Lopez and Crandell were being held without bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Inmate Information Center.

The 5-year-old was taken into protective custody by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Cannan said.

A hazardous materials crew cleaned out the lab, he said.

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