El Paso, TX (KDBC) — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has canceled the mixed beverage permit held by Nero's Cocktail Lounge after a sixteen-month, multi-agency investigation revealed that several bar employees, along with several associates of the Barrio Azteca gang were directly involved in a large cocaine distribution operation at the bar.
Agents from the TABC, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and several other local and federal agencies began investigating the club in early September 2013. At that time, more than 23 suspects were arrested in conjunction with the investigation and six of those arrested were confirmed members of the Barrio Azteca gang, including a lieutenant who directed the drug trafficking activities.
As a result of the warrant round-up and investigation, TABC Enforcement and Special Investigations unit served Nero's manager with fourteen administrative notices that contained 27 various violations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code on October 24, 2013. The permit holder was cited for sale, delivery and possession of narcotics by the bar employees, as well as prostitution, sale of an alcoholic beverage to a minor, failure to report a breach (disturbance), solicitation of an alcoholic beverage, permitting lewd acts, and criminal conspiracy. All of the violations involved Nero's employees.
Nero's permit holder subsequently waived his right to a hearing with the TABC, and the permit to sell alcoholic beverages was canceled for cause by the TABC.
Nero's Cocktail Lounge received their mixed beverage permit on April 5, 2006. The owner paid a $3,000.00 fine for prostitution and solicitation of alcoholic beverages occurring on the premises in 2008, and the permit was suspended for six days in 2012 for sale to minor.
"TABC will continue to partner with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that have infiltrated bars and restaurants in Texas," said Assistant Chief Dexter Jones. "The ability to sell alcohol is a privilege, and we expect TABC permit holders to comply with the law and actively contribute to the overall safety of their community," Jones added.
TABC asks anyone with a complaint about illegal activity occurring in a TABC Licensed location should contact their local TABC office which can be reached by dialing 1-888-THE-TABC. In El Paso, call 915-351-3697.