Year in Review: Major drug busts rock Austin's entertainment community
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Two of the past year's biggest stories were centered on money, hard drugs, and well-known Austin entertainment venues.
In March of this year, a multi-agency task force raided several downtown nightclubs, arresting 10 area residents including brothers Hadi, Mike, and Steve Yassine.
Mike was the owner Yassine Enterprises, the operator of several nightclubs throughout Austin’s popular entertainment district.
"I’ve met them before, great guys. I would have never ever imagined anything like this," Chris Weinheimer, Dirty Dog bar owner, said.
Federal investigators claim the Yassines ran a drugs-for-money laundering operation through some of their downtown bars.
"If this is a bad operator, then we're going have that many more good operators, so to speak," Bob Woody, Sixth Street business owner, said.
At trial, each brother was convicted of related crimes. Steve Yassine is serving a federal sentence on a drug charge.
Mike and Hadi are expected to be sentenced for money laundering next month.
The Yassine bar enterprise remains shut down.
Three months later on the other side of Lady Bird Lake, Operation Muerta Negra netted a man affectionately dubbed the “Mayor of South Austin.”
"The results of today's operation targeted sophisticated gangs, street gangs that have operated a heroin distribution network for well over a decade," FBI Special Agent Patrick Loll said.
Investigators said Amado "Mayo" Pardo, owner of Jovita’s restaurant on South First Street, led a large heroin distribution ring which dated back twenty years.
He's now in federal custody, awaiting trial.
For two decades, Pardo owned Jovita's, one of Austin's best known music venues.
The 64-year-old had ties to the Texas Syndicate prison gang and also served time for two murder convictions--news neighbors say was surprising.
Including Pardo's wife, 18 people were rounded up in the sting.
If convicted of drug charges Pardo and other are looking at 15 years to life behind bars.
In the end, two families once known as legitimate business owners might now be remembered for much more than food, money and music.