Four packets of the prescription drug Suboxone, found June 30 in a Happy Meal from McDonald’s in Auburn, lie on the seat of an Auburn police cruiser. Shirlee Marchesseault of Oxford said she found the drugs in the bottom of the box of chicken nuggets and fries she purchased for her 11-year-old son. Shirlee Marchesseault photo

AUBURN — Two McDonald’s employees have been charged in connection with four strips of the prescription drug Suboxone that were found in a Happy Meal at McDonald’s on Center Street last week.

A 43-year-old Turner man was charged with unlawful possession of scheduled drugs and a 29-year-old Auburn man was charged with unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs. Both are expected to appear in court Nov. 3.

Suboxone is a prescription drug used to treat opioid dependence. It is used as a maintenance program mainly by people trying to quit heroin or other opiates.

Police said a mother from Oxford spotted the drugs at the bottom of the box after she ordered chicken nuggets and fries for her 11-year-old son June 30.

“He ate most of the food and passed me the box and I looked in it and found all that in there,” Shirlee Marchesseault said. “I had to look up what that stuff was on Google because I didn’t know what it was.”

Marchesseault went back to McDonald’s and reported it at once. Auburn police began their investigation and said McDonald’s management cooperated.

Police used video surveillance inside the restaurant to determine that an employee had the Suboxone prescription in a shirt pocket. When the employee bent over to retrieve something from behind the counter, drugs and a pen fell from the pocket into a Happy Meal box, police said.

The employee did not know the prescription was missing until later in the shift when the incident was brought to the store’s attention, police said.

The employee who dropped the prescription into the Happy Meal box obtained it from another employee earlier in the shift, police said.

Marchesseault was relieved that arrests had been made.

“I think someone should be accountable for this,” she said on Wednesday. “There should have never been drugs there in the first place, in my opinion. A mistake doesn’t cut it for me.”

It was unclear Wednesday whether the two men were still employed at McDonald’s.

Suboxone is often sold on the street or smuggled into jails and prisons by people either trying to get off stronger drugs or seeking Suboxone’s opioid high. Drug officials say a single strip goes for about $8 to $10 on the street, but it will fetch up to $400 in correctional facilities.

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