Authorities crack down on Austin drug rings

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Now seems like a very bad time to run a drug trafficking operation in Austin.

On Thursday, a mix of local, state and federal law enforcement agents raided 10 homes and businesses, including Jovita’s restaurant on South First St.

Police said the restaurant was making $6,000 per day selling heroin in and around the establishment.

18 people have been indicted for “conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin from May 2011 through June 15,” three of which police say are members of the Texas Syndicate prison gang.

Amado Pardo, one of Jovita’s founders and well-known South Austinite, and his wife Amanda Pardo were arrested during the raids.

Thursday’s arrests followed another major bust in Williamson County, where 16 were arrested Wednesday in connection with a meth lab near Leander. Police say they found meth and materials used in the production of the drug at the house.

The Williamson County sheriff’s office and the Drug Enforcement Agency tracked the purchase of more than 100,000 pseudoephedrine in Williamson County pharmacies. The 16 individuals have all been charged with a first degree felony and are looking at 5 to 99 years in prison.

Just three months ago, authorities raided and later seized the assets of Yassine Enterprises, the organization that previously owned 8 bars in Austin. 11 individuals face federal indictments in connection with drug trafficking, weapon purchases and violent crimes. In addition, one member of the group was associated with transferring $45,000 to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Austin’s remaining criminal organizations (how many more can there be?) must be on edge after the recent busts, while the authorities are no doubt celebrating.