This past Three Kings Day left left dozens of people hospitalized in Orange County after eating traditional Rosca de Reyes (“King’s bread”) that was laced with synthetic drugs and, in some cases, induced hallucinations.
A criminal probe and investigation were launched on Friday into Cholula’s bakery in Santa Ana where the cakes were baked, after preliminary lab results came back testing positive for questionable substances.
Considering the sheer volume of synthetic drugs in circulation (hundreds), investigators have not yet been able to determine which drug contaminated the holiday bread. “Synthetic drugs, there are a lot of them and we don’t know yet,” said Corporal Anthony Bertagna, of the Santa Ana Police Department. More lab results are expected in two weeks, according to the Orange County Register.
Some of the symptoms the victims experienced were heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness and hallucinatory thoughts–all of which are similar to the effects of cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine.
Cholula’s was closed on Wednesday as part of the investigation, notes the Register. However, that same day they reportedly had their permit suspended when inspectors discovered a cockroach infestation. Cholula’s issued an apology in English and Spanish on their Facebook page, noting that in their 14 years in business they had never experienced such an incident. “We are apologetic and in a way ashamed this happened to our customers,” part of their message read.
Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6 and commemorates the visit baby Jesus Christ received from the Three Magi Kings. However, historical studies have suggested that the three kings (or Wise Men) were in fact Zoroastrian priests from Persia.
NBC News has listed the stores at which the laced bread was sold. Anyone who may have consumed the tainted bread is asked to contact the Santa Ana Police Crimes Against Persons Unit at 714-245-8390.
Photo: File (King Cake, New Orleans)
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz.