APD: Jovita's Owner at Center of Heroin Ring; Sold Drugs in Restaurant

Regional officials alleged today that Amado Pardo, the owner of Jovita’s Mexican Restaurant in South Austin, led a prison-gang connected heroin ring that moved between $3,400 and $6,250 worth of drugs daily.

Officials from the Austin Police, the FBI, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Office of the Inspector General and other agencies announced 18 arrests and the seizure of over $1.5 million in assets in a press conference this afternoon, “including a well-known restaurant on South First Street, Jovita’s,” said APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix.  

Patrick Loll, an FBI assistant special agent for Central Texas, said Pardo lead a “heroin distribution network that has operated here for over a decade.”

“A lot of the business transactions, the illegal narcotics transactions, involved either inside the restaurant, or out in the parking lot, or properties adjacent to the restaurant” Pardo owned, according to Loll.

APD Commander Donald Baker says Austin has become a distribution hub for narcotics that are coming across the border – one reason these sorts of collaborative raids are becoming more and more important. “We’re working with municipal agencies, state agencies and federal agencies to combat it, and I think what you’re seeing is the fruits of that partnership,” Baker said.

Among the people arrested were at least three documented members of the Texas Syndicate - a prison gang with ties to drug trafficking throughout Texas and Mexico. Police say one suspected member of the drug ring remains at large.

Below, a press release from APD with more details:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        

June 21, 2012

Operation Muerte Negra Seizes Heroin, Cash, Property; Nets 18 Arrests

On Thursday, June 21, 2012, a one-year investigation into an extensive heroin distribution operation culminated in the execution of nine search warrants and 18 arrest warrants. The investigation focused on the dismantling of the local cell of the Texas Syndicate prison gang. During the investigation, investigators were able to determine that large amounts of heroin were kept, sold, and distributed from several locations in and around Central Texas using the City of Austin as the base of their operations.

Operation Muerte Negra was a multi-agency investigation initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Austin Police Department’s Major Crime Task Force/Gang Suppression unit, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Office of the Inspector General.

The investigation into this organization revealed that Mr. Amado Pardo, a.k.a. “MAYO,’ led this criminal operation and was responsible for daily heroin trafficking. The organized criminal drug operation was estimated to have daily sales between $3,400 to $6,250. Amado Pardo is the owner of Jovita’s restaurant (1617 South 1st St.). Illegal narcotics sales were conducted from the restaurant.

Out of the 18 arrest warrants, 15 are federally indicted within the Western District of Texas for possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. Three of the subjects are facing state felony charges for either possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute or possession of a controlled substance.

Below are the names and dates of birth of the 15 individuals with federal indictments:

Jorge Manuel Carillo, 1/22/67                                     Amado Pardo, 9/14/47

Jose Alvarado Pardo, 3/19/44                                    Michael Botello Martinez, 10/28/45

Terry Lee Ayers, 6/1/47                                              Amanda Pardo, 12/22/66

Tatiana Shingie Huang, 2/28/87                                 David Green Sosa, 9/21/69

Alfredo Albertez Alvarez, 1/14/50                               Lucy Vigil Estrada, 7/28/79

Dionicio Sanchez, 2/11/50                                          Kilpatrick Williams, 6/30/66

Leah Gail Day, 12/26/87                                             Jeffrey Scott Finn, 5/21/76

Christopher George Mier, 5/17/80                 

State felony charges were filed for:

Robert Reid Tissing, 9/16/86                          Samantha Jo Murphy, 11/15/91

Jennifer Rose Abeyta, 8/10/89