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Woman charged with dealing drugs while running in-home day care

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A Des Moines woman is facing federal charges after allegedly dealing drugs out of her in-home daycare.

Federal authorities say 36-year-old Latosha Prather was running an in-home daycare on Pennsylvania Avenue, watching several children while doing drug deals throughout the day using her cellphone.

“I would just see a lot of kids out there,” said Emmalin Wells, a neighbor.

State records show she was often caring for up to eight children.

Now, Prather is in federal custody charged with dealing heroin and fentanyl out of her home.

“It’s going to be a sting for some families that thought their kids were in good hands,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek, with Des Moines police.

No children were injured, but court documents show Prather was often on her phone arranging drug deals.

Code language in her text messages allegedly referred to heroin as “sneakers.”

Prather allegedly sent one text to a co-conspirator in February 2018 that read, “any news on sneakers? I’m down to two pair left.”

“I feel bad for the parents,” Wells said. “They got blindsided. Not everybody is who they say they are.”

Wells, who has a 7-year-old daughter, said she is sickened to know what children could have been exposed to.

“My heart just breaks for that and the parents, really,” Wells said.

Bank statements show Prather made at least $65,000 from drug deals.

Fentanyl she allegedly sold caused a man to overdose and die in December 2017, spurring the federal investigation.

“Here in Des Moines we have seen the tragic consequences of the child inside of a home coming in contact or finding some drugs that were inside a home,” Parizek said.

In 2015 a child died from ingesting morphine.

“We could be telling a whole different story now if one of those children would have come in contact with the drugs that were allegedly kept there,” Parizek said.

Federal authorities in Virginia charged Prather with 10 drug accounts because she traveled from Des Moines to Virginia Beach to deliver drugs.

If convicted, she faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.

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