If you keep up with the LAPD police blotter, or perhaps are just are a civic-minded Mexican food enthusiast, you may have heard about the Los Angeles County deputy who was recently charged with trying to smuggle a bean and cheese burrito filled with heroin into the Airport Courthouse. Yes, you read that right: a bean-cheese-heroin super combo. Sometime between January and February of 2010 Sheriff's deputy Henry Marin allegedly conspired with an unknown woman to deliver a burrito stuffed with a “secret ingredient” to the courthouse jail, the contents of which would be later sold to inmates.
Since we're fairly certain that Chipotle doesn't offer heroin as an optional topping (we'll have to double-check at Freebirds), there seems little doubt that this crime represents another chapter in the burrito's dubious history as smuggling device.
In fact, the word burrito's literal translation, “little burro,” is derived from its unique ability to act as a miniature drug mule for illicit activities. Even the cruelest and most rigorous inspectors would refrain from rudely unwrapping a burrito at guard stations, acknowledging the unspoken rule that once a burrito has been rolled up in its flour shell, it is very, very hard to reseal properly. Those days are now gone. Expect TSA to start unwrapping your burritos at the airport.
The burning question for us at Squid Ink, though, is the matter of where this “magic burrito” came from? It would be hard to imagine a criminal strolling the supermarket aisles, picking out all the ingredients for homemade burritos. No, we posit, she must have snatched one up from a take-out window near the courthouse on La Cienega. But from which one? (On a related note: see our recent 9 Best Burritos in Los Angeles piece.)
Could it have been the South Bay chain El Tarasco, known for their oversized “Jr. Super” burritos and a liberal if shortsighted attitude towards guacamole? Probably not, as most people order their burritos wet, and the dripping of salsa roja would probably be seen as a hindrance on the drug hand-off. It could have been LAX Tacos, which happens to sport a drive-thru; a convenient feature if you're trying to conceal yourself from witnesses. It also could have been Lucy's Drive-In on Imperial Highway, which cooks up congealed beans burritos sprinkled with yellow-orange cheese 24 hours a day and is perfect for late-night narcotic hijinks.
Of course, if you're going to replace a burrito's guts with drugs, let's face it, your standards drop considerably (Taco Bell anyone?). We, however, like to imagine that the accused drug runner considered the merits of the burrito first and chose the ever-reliable Zacatecas in Hawthorne, which lies a short drive from the courthouse. Their molten burritos arrive so graciously stuffed they may as well function as overheard luggage bins. Maybe somebody ordered two: one for drug stuffing and one to enjoy later (this train of thought would make us terrible criminals).
Follow Garrett Snyder on Twitter @searchanddevour.