Would you like some black tar heroin with your enchiladas? On Thursday, the feds raided Jovita’s, a South Austin Mexican restaurant and music venue, and arrested fifteen people they say are involved with moving some $6,000 worth of heroin daily through the restaurant.
Among those arrested was Amado “Mayo” Pardo, one of the restaurant’s founders, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Authorities say Pardo and two others—his brother Jose Pardo and Michael Martinez—are members of the Texas Syndicate. (Curious who was arrested? See this PDF of mugshots.)
Austin Police Department Commander told the Statesman that they think that Amado Pardo has spent years selling heroin out of the restaurant, which is owned by his wife. “It’s a very visible point for people to come in and out of; that wouldn’t draw attraction to residents,” he said.
The raid, dubbed “Operation Muerte Negra,” was a joint effort between the FBI, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Austin Police. Authorities searched a total of ten homes and businesses, seizing “$38,000 in cash, $1.5 million in assets (including the restaurant), and two ounces of heroin,” the Austin Chronicle‘s Jordan Smith reported.
And the heroin bust wasn’t the only federal drug enforcement action in Central Texas Thursday: in Williamson County, sixteen people were arrested and accused of purchasing more than 100,000 pseudoephedrine pills over a two-year period to make meth.
This is the second federal raid of an alleged drug ring with ties to Austin businesses in four months: in March, the feds raided eight bars and nightclubs owned by Mike and Steve Yassine, who are accused of dealing cocaine, laundering money, and supporting Hezbollah.