Man Arrested After Kitty Litter Mistaken For Meth

By McCarton Ackerman 01/13/17

“They thought they had the biggest bust in Harris County. This was the bust of the year for them.”

Kitty liter and a yellow scooper.

A kitty litter purchase resulted in a Texas man being arrested after local police officers mistook it for meth.

Local news outlet KETK-TV reported that Houston resident, Ross LeBeau, spent three days behind bars last December over the outrageous mix-up. He was pulled over for a routine traffic stop when officers found half a pound of what they believed to be methamphetamine inside of a sock. LeBeau explained that it was kitty litter he kept in his car to reduce fog in his windows, but two field tests performed by deputies recorded positives for meth.

“They thought they had the biggest bust in Harris County,” said LeBeau. “This was the bust of the year for them.”

A third test later conducted by the county’s forensic lab finally determined that the kitty litter wasn’t an illicit substance and his case was dismissed. But by that point, LeBeau’s mug shot was publicized and he had lost his job due to the drug arrest.

In a gross understatement, his attorney George Reul said that “it might be bad testing equipment that they need to re-evaluate.” LeBeau is now working to expunge his record and restore his good reputation. “I was wrongly accused,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to clear my name.”

Sadly, this isn’t the first time police have mistaken common items for drugs. An Orlando man was arrested on a drug charge in 2015 after a field test used by city police came back positive for meth, but it was later revealed that the substance was glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Daniel Rushing eventually had his charge dropped, but he sued the city of Orlando and the Safariland Group, which produced the faulty drug kits, for $15,000 in damages.

In May 2011, a man spent four days in jail in North Carolina for 91 pounds of cheese and tortilla dough in his car that tested positive for cocaine. The Asheville-Citizen Times reported that cheese contains enzymes that can bring up false positives when tested for drugs.

Other foods that cops have mistaken for drugs include Pop-Tarts, Jolly Ranchers, maple syrup and okra.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.