tampabay.com

Boy, 7, turns in cocaine worth $8,900

By ABBIE VANSICKLE and LETITIA STEIN
Published April 19, 2007


TAMPA - The first-grader told a teacher he needed to talk.

Once inside the assistant principal's office, the 7-year-old boy said he had something "very dangerous."

From his jacket pocket, he pulled out two clear plastic sandwich bags filled with large, white lumps - $8,900 worth of crack cocaine.

Police say the Forest Hills Elementary School student carried the drugs to school Tuesday in the pocket of a blue, child-sized jacket.

He didn't show the drugs to any classmates, and school officials praised him for revealing his illegal cargo.

He won't receive any sort of discipline, said schools spokesman Stephen Hegarty.

"We told him several times that he did the right thing," Hegarty said.

Less clear is whether anyone else will be punished for the drugs. Police say no one has admitted to owning the jacket.

Investigators interviewed witnesses and family, but all denied having the jacket and the drugs.

The boy, whose name is not being released, is one of five children. His mother, whose name also was withheld, has previous narcotics-related charges, but she has not been charged in this case, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

In a letter sent home to parents, principal Sandra Thrower said the boy showed "bravery."

Officer Lisa Parashis said this is the first narcotics-related police call to the school, which is north of Busch Boulevard, just west of Interstate 275.

The case is unusual because of the large amount of drugs found - 89 grams, Parashis said.

The reaction to Tuesday's incident was muted compared with a similar incident more than a decade ago, when six fourth-grade students were arrested, accused of bringing cocaine to Dale Mabry Elementary School.

The incident, which involved students ages 9 to 12, caused a public outcry and shocked the community.

Back then, police found 3 grams of cocaine, worth about $300. An 11-year-old student was accused of distributing five packets of cocaine powder among his classmates.

The School Board voted to move the six youngsters to alternative schools.

Information from Times files was used in this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at (727) 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.