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Mom searches daughter's bedroom for 'hidden drugs' during DEA demonstration

DEA hopes the demonstration shows parents how easily kids can hide dangerous substances.

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The house in Cincinnati, Ohio, is like many others. It's filled with family photos and sentimental sayings.

And the bedroom of a teenage girl includes the same things found in many teenagers' bedrooms, including hidden pills.

In this case, the "drugs" are hot tamale candies, hidden by Brian McNeal with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He knows very well the places every parent should be checking.

"We're not doing anything super James Bond," McNeal said. "We're just hiding things, as I say, in plain sight."

The hot tamales are a safe substitute for illegal pills that too often end up in the hands of teenagers.

Once the candies were hidden away, McNeal asked mom Carrie Doyle to see if she could find them.

"No. There's not Lego's in there," Doyle said as she opened a box of what she thought were Lego bricks. "Oh my gosh."

From finding tamales in toys to a playing card box, Doyle started out strong, which isn't surprising considering she's six years sober.

"This was my go-to," she said. "Pants pockets and sweatshirts. That's what I always did. It's what I always did."

As the demonstration continued, Doyle discovered hiding places she never imagined, including atop a doorframe.

"You're not going to look for something that's right in your face. That was a good one," she said.

Doyle also missed candies placed in a yellow highlighter.

"What's in there?" Doyle asked. "Oh my gosh."

"School supplies are definitely [a good hiding spot] because what kid doesn't have school supplies?" McNeal said.

"I think about my girls and, you know, they're 14 and 12, [in] junior high, high school," Doyle said.

After the demonstration was over, sister station WLWT asked Doyle what message she has for parents who worry about invading their kids' personal space.

"You're saving their life. They're going to be mad at you for a second. But you're the parent," Doyle said. "You're the parent."

Doyle wishes her own mother had done something similar a long time ago.

"I went through years — years of heartache and pain and suffering," Doyle said. "And if she would have just stopped me and said, 'Hey, I care.'"

Mindful of the painful path Doyle has traveled, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Schumacher, who heads the DEA's Cincinnati office, credits her with letting WLWT's cameras show how easy it can be for kids to hide drugs in places they don't belong.

"It's amazing," Schumacher said. "She's courageous to bring strangers into her house. But she's saving people."

Schumacher and McNeal said the hiding spots chosen for the hot tamale candies were not random. They were based on input from people who've battled addiction and are now in recovery.