San Jose Used Car Buyer Finds $500K Cocaine Stash

SAN JOSE (CBS/AP) – A San Jose man was stunned to see what a previous owner of his minivan apparently left behind: $500,000 worth of cocaine jammed in the door panels.

Psychologist Charles Preston said the cellophane-wrapped cocaine was found when he took the van to a mechanic. Police were immediately notified.

Preston said he noticed the driver’s side window wouldn’t go down all the way, but he figured he would live with it because the Town and Country van had a good air conditioning system.

Preston paid $14,000 to Thrifty Car Sales in Santa Clara for the 2008 white van in May 2010.

Thrifty Car Sales owner Ron Battistella said he’s willing to replace the van with a drug-free ride.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Scudbuster says:

    Didn’t do it,
    Didn’t see me do it,
    Can’t prove I did it.

  2. mgk says:

    “Just bring the van and the cocaine back to us and we will exchange it for a drug-free model.”

    1. Al Schork says:

      Bring it to me and I’ll give you a new Benz and buy dinner.

    2. Sage Spalding says:

      I got the money AND the yay…..

  3. Kristyn Kelly says:

    Go for a Delorean!

  4. John Mulholland says:

    I saw this episode on “Cops”

    “That’s not mine officer. I have no idea how that got there!”

  5. Andrew Welsh says:

    Let’s see… this happened in California. This is the state where it can legally seize property that contains any illegal drugs, no matter who put them there or when.

    Sorry about that doc, but we can arrest your vehicle and sell it for profits.

    Welcome to seizure state of California!!!

  6. stoptouchingthatmabel says:

    The coke was a backup system in case you ran out of gas just tap in to the powder and you will be at your destination in no time.

  7. LaVonte d'Ashawn Jackson IV says:

    I can just see the crooked cops. Surrrre you didn’t know it was there…turn around and put your hands on the car.

    1. Andrew Welsh says:

      That actually happened about 15 years ago when MJ was found growing wild on a large East LA subdivision. Some sheriff tried to drug seize the property by having the owner shot and killed so no one would be the wiser. Sheriff didn’t reckon on the owner having wealthy family ties to prevent that seizure. Happens more often than you actually hear.

      1. Robert Nagel says:

        Actually they were trying to seize the property by raiding it for MJ. During the raid they shot and killed the owner and didn’t find any drugs. They tried to say that the property value had nothing to do with the raid, but they had had the property appraised prior to the raid.

      2. John Smyth says:

        Donald Scott, a 61-year-old wealthy Malibu rancher, was murdered in 1992 by a joint task force (comprised of members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, L.A.P.D., Park Service, D.E.A., Forest Service, California National Guard, and California Bureau of Narcotics ) conducting an early-morning raid on the pretense that Scott was growing pot on his property. Responding to his wife’s screams, a clueless Scott grabbed a gun and confronted the intruders. Two bullets were pumped into him. No pot was found. Ventura County District Attorney Michael D. Bradbury released a report criticizing the task force for using false information to secure a search warrant. Bradbury characterized the effort as an attempt to use forfeiture laws to slice up Scott’s considerable assets between the participating agencies. “Clearly one of the primary purposes was a land grab by the Sheriff’s Department,” Bradbury wrote. They had obtained an appraisal of the property
        weeks before the raid. While no law-enforcement agency or officer was ever charged with a crime, Los Angeles County and the feds tentatively agreed to pay $5 million to Scott’s survivors earlier this year.

    2. Bill Dukes says:

      LaVonte wants his drugs back because his gang is going to kill him otherwise.

  8. Tony says:

    PPL are stupid… I would of found a buyer or pusher to get rid of it… One time, One time… You only got to get away with it once… Not a continuous situation… That would of been nice to add to a future retirement.

    1. James says:

      Good luck finding a dealer who can afford to buy $500k worth of coke off of you. Odds are you’ll be selling it to this guy piecemeal over the course of a few years, for him to be able to unload it all, and taking on all the risk that entails. Of course, during that time law enforcement might pick up on it; or, worse, bigger guys who used to sell but whose turf you’re infringing on.

      Of course, if you find a big enough fish to be able to make the deal and take it all at once, who is to say he won’t just show up with a bunch of guys with guns and take it off you for free? Odds are a guy who has half a mil to drop on a single transaction has the kind of organization and firepower that even if you’re armed yourself, you are outmatched. And of course if you start shooting, you’re gonna end up explaining this all to the cops–and you won’t come off in a favorable light.

      Of course, you may end up trying to sell this half a mil of cocaine to the cops in the first place, posing as dealers because you didn’t know what the hell you were doing and ended up getting caught up in a sting.

      As tempting as the whole situation might be, unless you’re already an underworld type with some solid connections, you’re asking for more trouble than you can handle if you try and hang on to this big score and hit a payday. Of course, the mechanic is the one who found it, as well–and don’t you think that if he were cool with not telling the police, he probably would have just taken the coke without telling you it was even there? How are you going to do this thing and keep him from ratting you out to the cops?

      1. wptg says:

        Lee Donowitz, producer of “Coming Home in a Body Bag” (good effin’ movie). He could move that kind of powder.

      2. tn says:

        Or you can simply keep it around the house and use it all yourself, and never have to score!

    2. The best situation is what happened. It was reported to the cops, and then widely covered by the press. Otherwise the new owner would have the risk that whoever lost the stash in the first place would come looking for the car, and the new owner gets taken out in the process. The new owner should also definitly take up Thrifty on their free car offer, just in case whoever lost the coke doesn’t read the news.

    3. mel58109 says:

      My first thought was “why would he turn it in?”, but then it says the mechanic actually found it. So unless you could get him to go in with you, you’re stuck.

      1. jenny says:


  9. weeone says:

    Forgot to ask for “Car Fax” first!

    1. Andrew Welsh says:


  10. JJ says:

    Anyone want to buy a 500k van?

  11. Carl Curmudgeon says:


  12. Bill says:

    How about “It’s just plain illegal to keep it and sell it”. Why is everything based on getting caught. Is there no integrity left in this world???

  13. make my day says:

    Sell it out-of-state to a few dealers – I’m sure they are not hard to find, with the “millions” of druggies in this country!!!

  14. billcrawford says:

    “San Jose man was stunned to see what a previous owner of his minivan apparently left behind: $500,000 worth of cocaine jammed in the door panels.”

    Found in California? for personal use no doubt.

  15. Carl Curmudgeon says:

    Charles Preston will never see that stash again. Clapton done broke it down for ya, bro’:

    If your thing is gone, and you wanna ride on — cocaine.
    Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back — cocaine.

    She don’t lie,
    She don’t lie,
    She don’t lie — cocaine.

    1. Dave Mowers says:

      @ Carl Curmudgeon

      ♫ ♫
      “If your ready to shout, to throw Obama out, Koch-Cain”

      “The economy’s down, send it below the ground, Koch-Cain”

      “They just Lie, They just Lie, They just Lie, Koch-Cain”

      “If you want bad news, hey.. with Sales Tax you lose, Koch-Cain”

      “Freedom is done and there’s nowhere to run, Koch-Cain”

      “They just Lie, They just Lie, They just Lie, Koch-Cain”

      “If your rich as Hell, want your wallet to swell, Koch-Cain”

      “Poor don’t forget this fact, you’ll never get your money back, Koch-Cain”

      “They just Lie, They just Lie, They just Lie, Koch-Cain”

      “They just Lie, They just Lie, They just Lie, Koch-Cain”
      ♫ ♫

  16. Sean Adams says:

    Thrifty car sales we’ll give your go some blow? Thrifty car sales all that and a brick of yayo.
    Now the TSA will want to do thermal imaging on all returning rentals?
    No but seriously I think they just uncovered a way drug exchanges are going down they rent a car load it with drugs then tell the buyer to rent that car they get the drugs and poof deal made. Makes you wonder if they had a managment shift at that location and this van was supose to be rented to the buyer? Is thrifty involved in drug sales? Would it be easier to import drugs into USA via Japan? Are the cars loaded with drugs on the open seas? When are we going to find out how the war on drugs is just another sham on the American people. End the war on drugs elect Ron Paul 2012-2016

    1. Sarge says:

      Surrender in the war against insanity… elect Ron Paul.

  17. Keith says:

    I’ve got a message on my voicemail from some guy named Charlie Sheen. He says he wants his van back.

    Really, how stoned do you have to be to rent a van for a drug run, and then forget to unpack your cargo before you turn the van in to the rental agency?

  18. LLeone says:

    Too bad it wasn’t marijuana–he could have got a prescription for it and everything would be jake..

  19. Richard Head says:

    Good thing he didn’t decide to take the van on a road trip to Canada or Mexico!

  20. PitBull says:

    So that’s where I left it, in the door panels! Damn!

  21. Walter W. Charles says:

    Where does it say that this was a rental car? It was bought at Thrifty car SALES, not Thrifty car RENTAL!

  22. Pharmd332 says:

    Hello! adekddg interesting adekddg site! I’m really like it! Very, very adekddg good!

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