A female employee working at a Pittsburgh McDonald’s was arrested for selling heroin in the company’s Happy Meals via the drive-through, and over 20 people have died in the state of Pennsylvania from a fentanyl-laced batch of the drug. 26-year-old Shantia Dennis was busted earlier this week for drug dealing while on the job, and although officials are saying that the product that she sold is not connected to the fentanyl-laced batch in other parts of Pennsylvania, the drug has caused more than 20 overdose deaths in two weeks.
Heroin has reached an alarming abuse and addiction rate nationwide, and Pennsylvania is experiencing it firsthand. The batch that is responsible for so many deaths is mixed with a painkiller called fentanyl, that is generally only prescribed for the pain associated with cancer treatment. Heroin is an opiate narcotic with pain killing qualities that provide an incredible high like a euphoria for its users, but comes with a shocking likelihood of repeated use because of the perceived pleasure. Once physical and psychological dependency for opiates has developed, the cycle of abuse that all too often leads to addiction is extremely difficult to break. At this point, there is no way to know how much of the lethal batch combining the heroin and fentanyl was made, nor how far it has traveled. However, considering the opiate tendencies of both, the lethal consequences of the mixture can be far reaching.
The last place anyone would think to find heroin is McDonald’s, but employee Shantia Dennis was able to sell the drug via the Pittsburgh drive-though in Happy Meals. Although this has not directly contributed to the 20 plus people who have died, but is certainly not lowering the heroin overdose statistics. How did Shantia pull off drug dealing while working at McDonalds? She somehow spread the message of the specific language to use when placing an order at the drive-through window. Apparently customers needed to request a McDonald’s Happy Meal and then say the exact words, “I would like to order a toy.” Further reports are detailing that customers needed to mention that the toy was for a male child.
When an anonymous tip came into the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, undercover police officers went through the process. While in the Pittsburgh McDonald’s drive-through, the officer ordered a Happy Meal and then said the key phrase: “I would like to order a toy,” and voila, he was sold a child’s Happy Meal, an extra toy, and a bag of heroin, all for $82. The cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal is right around $3, depending on whether it’s hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken nugget and the cost of another toy is $2.
Following the incident, a Pittsburgh man was interviewed about the events at his local McDonald’s to which he expressed his sadness for the ability to get “A Happy Meal, some fries, and a bag of dope.” For parents, one wrong transaction, where an extra toy was actually desired, could have caused major life-threatening consequences.
After Shantia Dennis, the Pittsburgh McDonald’s employee who was selling heroin in Happy Meals, was arrested, police officers found an additional 50 bags of the drug. This could have further contributed to the over 20 overdose deaths already recorded in Pennsylvania in the last two weeks had it too been sold. Luckily, the arrest was made before any children were affected, and, according to CNN, Shantia Dennis is charged with two counts of possession of heroin, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of prohibited acts of delivery and one count of possession with intent to deliver.
By K. Corrine Van Vliet