Monday, June 3, 2013

Food Dealer Retail Renewal License Denied To Milwaukee's Carniceria El Indio For Illegal Fencing Operation

Carlos Vega

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office

Southside Mexican food grocery store allegedly bought and sold other items it was not licensed or authorized by the city to do so.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 3, 2013

Milwaukee, WI - On May 29, the Milwaukee Common Council Licenses Committee members on a vote of 5-0 decided to revoke Carniceria El Indio's renewal application for a food dealer retail license last week. The committee's decision came after Milwaukee Police Officer Jeffrey Thiele provided detailed testimony that an illegal fencing operation was busted at Carniceria El Indio, 1709 S. Muskego Avenue in February. The grocery store operated as a pawnbroker place, a second-hand dealing business, a precious metal dealer and a junk collecting business as well without having the proper valid licenses to do so. 
On February 9, police with a warrant went to Carniceria El Indio and confiscated at least 499 hardware and a variety of construction tools in the store's basement. Police loaded two full trucks that took several 24-hour shifts to take and inventory all the items from the basement.
Police seized gold, gems, cell phones, GPS devices, musical instruments, computer tablets, Mexican cigarettes, Mexican medication, including penicillin that were solded over the counter without asking any questions or prescriptions, U.S. cigarettes stamped with not for sale labels and dry wall equipment, according to Officer Thiele's testimony. Theile described it as an illegal fencing operation that was managed at the grocery store. Mexican medication sold at the store was banned in the U.S. because it was considered to cause cancer, Thiele added.
The store manager Carlos Vega was blamed for the fencing operation by an attorney representing Jose L. González, the store owner and the License holder who apparently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Vega allegedly bought gold jewelry on several occasions from a police decoy during a sting operation to determine, if gold items were being purchased illegally at the store.
Both, Carlos Vega, 42, and his wife, Rosa E. Guzman, 37, were charged in February with two felony counts each for intent to deliver prescription drugs.
Both González's sons, Oscar Antonio González and Luis González who live in Cicero, Illinois were at the Licenses Committee hearing with their Attorney Vincent Bobot who blamed Vega for the operation in which González, the store owner wasn't aware that the fencing operation was taking place. González remained in Illinois and was not at Wednesday's hearing because he was adviced by a criminal attorney not to attend and has not contacted Officer Thiele. Vega had worked at the store since 2000 and was fired by González when Vega was arrested. Since then, Oscar, one of González' sons has taken over the management of the store.
Bobot told the committee that the illegal Mexican medication is commonly available and sold at various Mexican grocery stores in Milwaukee's south side. Vega didn't know it was illegal to sell the medication in Wisconsin, according to Bobot.
Thiele also confirmed that most of the tools and other items were eventually returned to González because police couldn't proof the items were stolen. González or his sons have not been charged for any crime, but the investigation is ongoing, Officer Thiele confirmed.
Alderman Robert "Bob" Donovan from the 8th Aldermanic District first alerted police of the illicit activity that was taking place at Carniceria El Indio grocery store. 
The Licenses Committee members found it hard to believe that González was unaware of what was actually happening at the store when he spent some time at the property.
The full Common Council will vote whether to renew González license or deny it, since his food dealer retail license expires at the end of the month.

No comments: