Heroin Wholesaler Busted in Austin Restaurant

Operation Muerte Negra leads to arrest of family members of Jovita’s owners

Jovita's Restaurant in Texas. (Photo Modified: Flickr/Dan Phiffer/CC4.0)

If this week in food was selected for a random drug test, things might not go too well. Earlier this week a British chef accidentally served chocolate spiked with Ecstasy to two toddlers, and now this: a joint effort with state, county and federal officials police are calling “Operation Muerte Negra,” led to the arrest of 18 people in the Austin restaurant, Jovita’s. Several of the arrestees were family members of the owners of the Mexican restaurant/music venue, who were charged with distributing Heroin in and around Jovita’s.

Police and federal officials said that Amado “Mayo” Pardo, long involved with running Jovita’s, which is owned by his sister, has been a member of Texas Syndicate, one of the most notoriously violent gangs in the state, for more than 30 years, and was previously convicted of murder in 1972 and 1985. Also arrested were Pardo’s brother, 68-year-old Jose Alvarado Pardo and 66-year-old Michael Martinez, who are also Texas Syndicate members, police officials reported. Though 18 arrests were made in all, Jovito Patino, the legal owner of the restaurant, was not arrested.

Police Commander. Donald Baker, who oversees the department’s organized crime efforts, said the raids seized over 330 grams of Heroin, close to $40,000 in cash, plus vehicles, real estate and weapons.

Baker said investigators believe Pardo has been selling Heroin out of Jovita’s for years as a wholesaler to other dealers. Police estimate that the organization was responsible for more than $6,000 a day in drug sales.

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On the brighter side of things, authorities reported at a news conference yesterday that the arrests were putting a major dent in the Heroin distribution in the Austin area.