NYC
09/02/2011 05:09 pm ET Updated Nov 02, 2011

NYPD Busts Queens Restaurant Drug Ring In 'Operation Dinner Out'

Following a ten month investigation dubbed, "Operation Dinner Out", police have arrested 12 individuals, including alleged members of the Trinitarios, Latin Kings and Bloods gangs, for selling drugs out of a now-shuttered Briarwood, Queens restaurant.

From a Queens County District Attorney's office press release:

As part of the investigation, officers executed five court-authorized search warrants and recovered four firearms, including a defaced Colt .38 caliber revolver; a defaced sawed off Mosburg shotgun; a .380 Sig Sauer semi-automatic and a Remington 870 shotgun with a scope. Also seized were more than a kilo of cocaine; 777 glassines of heroin (more than one ounce) and two ounces of marijuana; as well as $3,520.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, “When illegal drugs are sold at a restaurant we can expect that violence associated with guns, drug sales and gang activity will also show up on the menu. I want to commend the detectives from the NYPD’s Queens Gang squad and prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office who worked together to shut down this rogue restaurant and bring these gang members to justice.”

The 12 defendants are variously charged with numerous counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon and assault.

Gothamist chuckles at a miserable review the restaurant in question, The La Braza, owned by alleged Trinitarios gang member Brian Romero, received on Yelp. "If there was a '0 star option'", the review reads, "this place would be there! Decor of a strip club, with bright red chairs, Scarface playing on TV, cuss word rap music blaring from the stereo, a rude waitress, thugs hanging out in the bar area, and horrible, inedible food, this place takes the cake for the worst restaurant I have ever eaten at!"

It's been a banner year for the NYPD in busting drug operations with similarly innocuous fronts.

In August cops busted a drug ring operating out of Nel Boy Bagels in Staten Island that sold oxycodone, Percocet, Xanax pills, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. In March, authorities caught on to an ice cream truck that sold oxycodone. And in January three sanitation workers were arrested for selling cocaine and oxycodone with clever, colorful calling cards.