Used van comes equipped with $500K of cocaine

A 2008 Town and Country van PRNewsFoto/Nickelodeon

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California psychologist who paid $16,000 for a used van was shocked to find out that his ride contained $500,000 worth of cocaine.

Psychologist Charles Preston told the San Jose Mercury News that he had bought the Town and Country van from Thrifty Car Sales in Santa Clara, Calif. Other than the fact that the windows wouldn't roll down the whole way, the car was in otherwise good condition. Little did he know, the reason for the faulty windows was because the doors and compartments above the tires were stuffed with 19 packages of cocaine.

"It's absolutely dangerous," said Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a police spokesman, said to the San Jose Mercury News. "If somebody is motivated to track down that van and doesn't want any witnesses, then some physical harm could come to the owner. That's a lot of dope to be misplaced."

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Preston only found out that the van contained the contraband drugs after taking it to the mechanic 15 months later to deal with an unrelated issue. When a manager offered to take a look at the window, they discovered all the cocaine. They called the police right away. The authorities told Preston to make sure there were no tracking devices on the car -- and then to get rid of the vehicle.

"People make jokes -- oh, you should have sold it," Preston said. "But honestly, I've never been so scared in my life, even when I was mugged in New York."

According to Preston, however, he's having a hard time getting rid of the van. He tried to sell it back to the Thrifty, but they would only give him the current Blue Book value -- about $4,000 less than he paid. The owner of the Thrifty, Ron Battistella, has since retracted his initial offer and said he will allow Preston to trade in his van for a new, clean car.

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