A DFW nightclub mogul has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison for running an empire of clubs where drugs were openly sold, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham has announced.
In November 2021, a federal jury found OK Corral/Far West owner Alfredo Hinojosa, general manager Miguel Casas and found promoter Martin Salvador Rodriguez guilty of running drug premises, conspiracy to run premises drugs and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Mr. Hinojosa was sentenced on Friday by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay, who fined him $120,000 in addition to the prison sentence.
The overall case included more than 30 defendants, all of whom were convicted, including former Dallas police officers Eddie Villarreal and Craig Woods. At sentencing, Judge Lindsay called Mr Hinojosa the “top dog” in the scheme and noted that “the buck stops” with him.
According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Casas and Mr. Rodriguez ran a conglomerate of businesses that generated more than $107 million in revenue over a four-year period.
The defendants allowed the daily sale of cocaine in the restrooms of their nightclubs, as these drug sales attracted customers and gave them a competitive advantage over rival clubs. These drug sales increased club revenue by between $9 million and $12 million.
“These defendants made millions by explicitly allowing cocaine trafficking in DFW nightclubs. They assumed that allowing drug sales in restrooms would be their “competitive advantage.” Instead, it was their downfall,” Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham said after sentencing. “The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI will not allow nightclub owners – or anyone else – to deliberately overlook the drug trade taking place on their premises.”
“This plot was designed to elevate the status of the defendants at a very high cost to our society,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “Their sweeping plans to cover up high-volume, nightly drug sales included hiring law enforcement officers as employees. We will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to protect the integrity of the profession, maintain public trust, and prevent access to illicit drugs in our great Dallas-Fort Worth communities.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence of 17 controlled drug purchases that took place at OK Corral Dallas, OK Corral Fort Worth and Far West nightclubs between 2013 and 2016. Half a dozen informants, all under the supervision of FBI agents, bought bag after bag. of cocaine by traffickers operating in club washrooms.
Several security guards who worked inside the clubs testified at trial that Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Casas and Mr. Rodriguez knew the drug trade was taking place and openly ordered security personnel to allow it. The drug traffickers, previously charged and convicted in this case, also testified that they were allowed to operate freely.
At trial, FBI agents explained that in 2015 they installed court-ordered microphones and a camera in Mr. Hinojosa’s office, without the knowledge of the defendants. The agent also searched for and obtained more than a dozen wiretaps in the case. During these taped calls and intercepted communications, Mr. Hinojosa could be heard saying, “we can’t really clean it up because then we’re losing business” and “we need cocaine, man.”
Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Casas and Mr. Rodriguez eventually confessed to knowing that the drug sales were ongoing and authorized. Prosecutors played Mr. Hinojosa’s 45-minute taped interview for the jury. Other officers recounted the statements made by Mr. Casas and Mr. Rodriguez.
According to an agent’s notes, Mr Casas told a task force officer that when club management realized the business was ‘falling apart’ they told the bouncers to allow drug sales to resume and to leave drug traffickers alone as long as they were “discreet”.
The Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Dallas Police Department conducted the investigation, which was dubbed “Operation Closing Time”. The Law Enforcement Division of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, IRS – Criminal Investigations, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys PJ Meitl, Nicole Dana and Melanie Smith prosecuted the case.