April 1, 2009— -- Six people were arrested during a raid Tuesday night at a popular Bronx pizza parlor where authorities say cocaine was concealed in pizza boxes and customers could get the drug by delivery or takeout.
"Using their pizza shop as a front for drug trafficking, the dough that this organization made was not from the sale of pizza but rather illegal narcotics. Through concentrated law enforcement efforts this organization's brick ovens have been shut down," said DEA Special Agent-In-Charge John P. Gilbride.
Nearly 20 pounds of cocaine, about $20,000 in cash, and four guns were seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency at John Pizzeria on Westchester Avenue. The suspects allegedly used at least four stash houses within walking distance of the pizzeria, where the gang then package varying amount of cocaine.
The arrests were made by the DEA and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. During their ten-month investigation, agents said they identified the manager and his partner as the leaders of a cocaine distribution enterprise.
Other members of the drug operation, who doubled as delivery men and workers for the pizzeria, prepared the drug orders, met with drug buying customers, and replenished the cocaine supply kept inside the pizza parlor, authorities say.
"It must be alarming to find out that your neighborhood pizza parlor is a haven for a wholesale cocaine operation," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. "Out of state 'take out' customers went to the pizza parlor to pick up their orders, often using pizza boxes to conceal the $32,000 to $42,000 worth of cocaine they had just purchased. Other customers received their narcotics delivered to pre-arranged locations in the Bronx."
Those defendants will be arraigned in New York City Criminal Court.