This Woman Was Issued an Arrest Warrant Just For Selling Tamales to Neighbors

When it comes to tamales, there are two things that are absolutely fact: 1. Tamales are delicious. 2. Tamaleros are some of the most entrepreneurial people you’ll ever meet. In San Francisco, for example, Silvia Gonzales, aka the Tamale Lady, conquered people’s hearts and stomachs with her bomb chicken and pork tamales. She started selling them door-to-door in 1995 because it was the only job she could get. By 2009, she had become such a fixture in the city that she expanded her business to keep up with the 400-a-week demand.

And obviously, tamaleros have made their mark, because if you search the term “tamale lady” or “tamale man” on Google, the search engine will autocomplete it to include cities like Los Angeles, St. Louis, Claremont, Colorado Springs, Portland, and Carson City. In Carrollton, Texas, someone snitched on and tried to interfere with Dennise Cruz’s tamal side hustle. Earlier in the month, she received an arrest notice from the city because of her business. The notice said she had to pay a $700 fine or go to jail. “That has to be wrong. I don’t have any tickets under my name. That’s just my first reaction. Never would have I thought, tamales,” Cruz told CBS DFW. “To know that somebody can be arrested over that, that to me is unbelievable.”

When she called to complain, the city told her she received a warrant because she didn’t have a food permit. Though she understands that this can leave customers vulnerable, she felt her actions didn’t merit a fine. A city employee said she didn’t get a warning because corn and meat make tamales “potentially hazardous food.” The trouble started after she began selling tamales through the Nextdoor app. “It’s just so common,” she said. “That’s why to me, I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal.”

And neither do 182 other people. One of Cruz’s friend started a GoFundMe account to help her pay off the unexpected bill, and nearly 200 people chipped in. In two weeks, the fund has raised almost $5,000. But that’s not surprising, because tamaleras are invaluable to many of us. And also, no one wants to get stuck with Neiman Marcus tamales.