Rosca de Reyes cake. Photo courtesy Orange County Health Care Agency.
Rosca de Reyes cake. Photo courtesy Orange County Health Care Agency.

Santa Ana police on Thursday received confirmation from a laboratory that a holiday sweet bread that sickened at least 40 people in Orange County was laced with a synthetic drug that mimics the active ingredient in marijuana.

An analysis of the bread showed it had JWH122 — a synthetic cannabinoid, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

At last count 40 people fell ill after eating the bread, but investigators expect there may be more victims, Bertagna said.

“I anticipate the number will grow or has grown,” Bertagna said. “We’ve had people calling, but then  you have to vet them and interview them.”

A hospital in the southern part of the county reported up to 10 victims who may have gotten sick eating the bread, but that has not been confirmed it is related, Bertagna said.

The victims ate “Rosca de Reyes” bread, a fruit cake traditionally eaten on Jan. 6, Three Kings Day or Epiphany, according to Santa Ana police and the OC Health Care Agency.

Cholula’s Bakery, which sold the cakes at its location on East 17th Street and distributed them countywide, was closed while investigators with the OC Health Care Agency began an investigation.

The bread was delivered to 10 stores from San Juan Capistrano to Long Beach, according to the OC Health Care Agency.

The “Rosca de Reyes” bread was sold at Cholula’s Bakery and the following markets:

— El Nopal Mercado, 31451 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano;

— La Bodega Ranch, 918 N. Glassell St., Orange;

— La Bodega Ranch, 1700 N. Placentia Ave., Fullerton;

— Santa Ana Marquet, 1216 W. 1st St., Santa Ana;

— Tony’s Liquor, 32141 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano;

— Gonzalez Marquet, 235 W. La Jolla St., Placentia;

— Taqueria Mocorito Restaurant, 1076 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim;

— Taco Boy, 725 N. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim;

— Brianna’s Ice Cream, 2107 E. Ball Road, Anaheim;

— La Bodega Ranch Market, 4945 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach.

Anyone who thinks they consumed the tainted bread was encouraged to contact Santa Ana police Crimes Against Persons Unit at (714) 245-8390.

City News Service

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