Drugs on the Side? Fast Food Restaurants Under Fire for Possible Drug Violations

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Fast food restaurants are many people’s go-to place for a quick and inexpensive meal. Despite widespread concerns about the healthiness of the food they serve, these franchises still receive an enormous amount of customers daily. But recent news has just exposed a few fast food restaurants and have shown us that some may be giving out more than just food–particularly a couple recent cases of drugs being produced or found in different establishments.

Early Tuesday morning around 4:42 AM, Cedar Rapid’s police received a call about suspicious activity going on outside a Taco Bell. When the officers arrived they found two men standing outside, one of whom was a Taco Bell employee. Police then called the restaurant’s manager to the scene and went inside with him to check it out. To their surprise, they found materials identified as equipment for the production of methamphetamine in the utility area.

The parking lot was taped off Tuesday morning while officers examined the materials, and it is still unclear if meth was actually cooked inside the restaurant. The two men were identified as 31-year-old Christopher Adam Matous and 56-year-old Kent Jerome Duby. Matous faces charges of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of sodium hydroxide and petroleum distillates. Two of the charges are felonies. Duby faces a felony charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Taco Bell stated,

We understand that two people, one an employee, entered our franchisee’s restaurant illegally, allegedly possessing suspicious items. Both we and our franchisee find this completely unacceptable. Our franchisee has been cooperating with Cedar Rapids Police to investigate this isolated incident. Although the suspicious items found in the restaurant were not used in the kitchen, the employee has been terminated and our franchisee is considering pressing criminal charges. The restaurant will reopen after it has been sanitized and inspected by the Health Department.

The Taco Bell will have to remove any traces of hazardous chemicals from the building and then the health department must perform an inspection before the restaurant is allowed to re-open. Police don’t think that customers or employees at this Taco Bell were ever in danger, but are still investigating the situation. This is not the first time in recent history that a fast food restaurant has had an incident involving drugs. Just last week on July 29, a lawsuit was filed against an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles, California when a customer, Fred Maldonado, became sick after drinking a milkshake that allegedly contained two methamphetamine capsules. Maldonado visited In-N-Out during March of 2014 and ordered a burger and milkshake. It wasn’t until the next morning that he noticed two capsules wrapped in a napkin at the bottom of his cup. He then returned to the restaurant and complained to the manager who only apologized and offered him a free burger.

The suit Maldonado filed states, “Plaintiff did not initially know what the two capsules were, but later testing revealed that they were methamphetamine and that it appeared that they may have been illicitly manufactured.” Maldonado also claims that he suffered severe nausea and mental distress after drinking the milkshake. Maldonado filed the lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging negligence and strict liability. In-N-Out has denied the charges and stated:

At In-N-Out Burger, we have always served the freshest, highest quality burgers, fries, and drinks and customer safety is one of our highest priorities.

In-N-Out Burger executive vice president Arnie Wensinger told City News Service.

We will vigorously defend these baseless claims. Due to the fact that this matter involves ongoing litigation, we will unfortunately not be able to comment any further.

To have drugs around or being manufactured where people eat is completely unacceptable–both the Taco Bell and In-N-Out Burger cases are very concerning. Careless actions like this can can put customers like Maldonado in serious danger. Even though they appear to  be isolated incidents, restaurants need to pay close attention to their employees and what’s happening inside their buildings.

Taelor Bentley
Taelor is a member of the Hampton University Class of 2017 and was a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Taelor at



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