Editor’s note: the case was resolved in January 2017. For refusing to take the plea deal, Mariza Ruelas was only sentenced to 80 hours of community service. A June 2017 FOX6 article claimed the case was still open.

 

A single mother of 6 from the notoriously poor city of Stockton, California recently made headlines after selling an undercover agent… a $12 plate of ceviche, Mexican food.

37 year old Mariza Ruelas was selling her home cooked meals through the Facebook group 209 Food Spot when she accidentally did business with an undercover investigator.

“It’s just crazy because people have been selling out their trunks and out of parking lots for years,” Mariza said. “I never knew it would be a problem.”

According to TIME:

“A friend told Ruelas about the 15,000-member Facebook group, which she quickly grew to love. Ruelas said it became a network where amateur chefs in Merced, Stockton and the Modesto area could share recipes, organize potlucks and charity giveaways, trade goods or sell dishes for cheaper than market prices. Ruelas started running the Facebook group as an administrator after she said the creator of the page left the group about a year ago.”

“There were times when I didn’t have time to cook. You could go on there and pick something up or have it delivered on the same day,” she said. “It was just convenient for a lot of people. Everybody loves food. There was that connection with anyone.”

6 members of the group received letters in the mail from the local district attorney, informing them they were being summoned to court for violating health codes. Ruelas then shut down the group.

“When I got them, I didn’t know the extent of the punishment,” she explained. “I thought you would go to court and they would be like, ‘Stop it.’ But it wasn’t.”

The other 5 people accepted plea deals of one year probation, a 235$ fine and 40 hours of community service. When Ruelas had the dignity to decline the plea deal, she was struck with a threat of double their punishment: up to 2 years in prison.

Her eldest children now have to take care of their younger siblings and grandmother, who has diabetes and requires dialysis three days each week.

The story is particularly ridiculous if you know how Stockton, California is. It’s a city plagued by poverty and unsolved crimes, one of the worst in California.

In Stockton, finding work is not easy. The ability for people to freely come together and sell food items is a necessity.

San Joaquin County, California is home to authorities who would rather perform sting operations on people selling home cooked meals without a license than fight Stockton’s raging crime problem. When you pass through the city on a bus, you’ll notice in the downtown area it’s nothing but dealers and addicts. When people can’t afford to live in Oakland or Sacramento anymore, they move to Stockton.

In Stockton, over a hundred camps of homeless people were served eviction notices a few months ago. The city became the largest in US history to ever go bankrupt in 2012.

A similar incident occurred recently in California, but it was resolved with little issue. In Los Angeles, a taco stand with raging popularity was raided, as reported in a past article from the Mind Unleashed.

This is exactly how the state crushes people’s ability to be prosperous, reinforcing the power of the upper class.


(Image credit: WHIO, City Data)