At El Palacio and Other Dallas Nightclubs, the Married Owners Were Also the Coke Dealers

Over the course of several months in 2008, undercover narcotics detectives with the Dallas Police Department visited El Palacio Bar at 4430 Maple Ave. on three occasions and asked for cocaine. Each time, their server dutifully retrieved a small plastic baggie of powdered nine-hour energy from a storage closet.

It was clear to the officers what was going on: The bar's owners, the husband-and-wife team of Jose Torres Mijares and Leticia Norma Munoz, were using their bar to peddle drugs. Problem was, they were never around when the cops showed up, and there was no way to prove their involvement.

On one occasion, the officers couldn't say for sure whether the bartender got the cocaine from the storage closet or slipped it from her pocket while she was pretending to rummage through it; on another occasion, the cash went into the server's pocket, not into the register.

So it was the low-level employees, and not the owners, who wound up in jail on felony drug charges. One got five years' probation; another is doing eight years in prison; a third was deported to Mexico.

Mijares and Munoz probably should have taken the arrest of several employees as a sign that they should stop selling their customers illegal narcotics, but they didn't. Three years later, in May 2011, the TABC alleged that drugs were being sold from their El Jimador Bar on Harry Hines Boulevard.

By that point, they had caught the attention of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. On November 14, 2011, the couple was arrested during a raid by federal agents.

Both Munoz and Mijares would go on to plead guilty to drug conspiracy charges for selling drugs at El Palacio and El Jimador, as well as the Circle 33 Bar and Ladies Bar and Night Club, all in Dallas.

Munoz was sentenced last year to nearly 20 years in federal prison. Mijares' didn't learn his fate until this month: 27 years in the pen, plus the loss of several guns and $300,000 cash.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson

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