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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Vegas Meth, Cocaine And INS Bust Nets 22 Suspects

Vegas Meth, Cocaine And INS Bust Nets 22 Suspects
July 2nd, 2004

An overnight drug bust may put a healthy dent in southern Nevada's meth and cocaine supply. Federal agents and local police teamed up to bring in 22 people, and more arrests could be ahead. News 3's Denise Rosch tells us why the raid was a long time coming.

Agents have been working this investigation for nearly a year. This afternoon, a handful of suspects made their first court appearance at the federal building. Meanwhile, some family members say their loved ones were rounded up for entirely different reasons.

The lights are on, but the doors remain locked at Salon Mexico, a North Las Vegas bar now at the center of a major drug investigation. Patti Rand works next door. "Wow. I had no idea. That's blowing me away." She says the bar used to be a problem. Prostitutes and drugs, she says, were common, but Rand tells us when a new owner took over about a year ago, things changed. "He's cleaned it up nice. He's been nothing but a nice neighbor, always says hi."

But Thursday night, police moved in, arresting eight people on drug charges and 11 more for immigration problems. Beatriz Romero says her brother, Carlos, was one of them. "All I know is that there was a raid. When we got here, we saw an immigration bus, and they were putting people in it. They didn't let the families talk to them."

Romero says her brother works at the bar sweeping floors and cleaning up. She admits he is not a legal citizen, but is going through the process. And Romero says she doesn't know anything about alleged drug activity. "If it was that, all the people inside, it wasn't their fault."

A spokesman for the FBI says the case centers around cocaine and methamphetamine. Agents believe large quantities of both were being brought into Clark County and sold there. The connection to Salon Mexico is still unknown. But for Romero, the only question that matters is what happened to her brother, Carlos. "I want to know what's going on. Did they deport him to Mexico or is he still in jail?"

Several other suspects named in this case were already in custody prior to last night's raid. If convicted on the drug charges, each person faces ten years to life in prison.

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