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SIU leads effort to stop drug dealing in neighborhood

WEST MONTGOMERY COUNTY- When residents of a Magnolia neighborhood decided people were buying more than drinks in a local bar, they contacted law enforcement, who launched an investigation that resulted in an arrest and confiscation of illegal drugs.

Around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit, the Magnolia office of the MCSO Criminal Investigations Division, MCSO District 4 Patrol Division, Precinct 5 Constable’s Office and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission converged on the Las Pollitas Bar in the 9000 block of Carraway Lane between Mesa Verde and Hufsmith Conroe Rd.

Lt. Philip Cash, who heads up the SIU, said citizens made numerous complaints directly to police agencies or indirectly through Montgomery County Crime Stoppers concerning drug activity and prostitution at the bar. Their investigation indicated the complaints were valid, since a large number of people visited the bar for short periods of time.

Some patrons stopped after leaving the bar were cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and others had bigger problems.

“People associated with the bar were charged with Class A misdemeanor drug offenses,” Cash said.

Inside the bar, investigators arrested 26-year-old Javier Juarez Vargas, who allegedly had cocaine and about $1,000 in US currency in his pants pockets.

Cash said the bar has been the subject of investigations for a couple of years for various reasons. Vargas is not the owner or manager of the establishment, but is apparently a fixture in the bar.

“We believe he’s just a customer who hangs out there to sell drugs,” Cash said. “There was a DJ booth where the K-9 alerted and we discovered additional cocaine in the pocket of a jacket that was hanging there,” he said.

The cocaine was separated into small plastic zipper bags and had a combined weight of combined weight of 23.8 grams.

Cash said Vargas admitted the jacket and the cocaine inside were his, but there was also a cleverly hidden weapon nearby.

“There was a semi-automatic pistol in a little cardboard box that looked like trash, hidden inside a plastic bag,” he said.

Vargas denied ownership of the gun.

“Both were in close proximity to the suspect so he would have easy access,” Cash said.

The firearm was sent to a lab to be checked for fingerprints.

Vargas was charged with second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance (more than 4, less than 200 grams). Bond was set at $2,500. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on him, meaning even if bond is posted he will remain jailed until his immigrant status is determined.

There were no arrests for prostitution on Wednesday, but both alleged criminal activities remain under investigation and additional arrests and charges may be forthcoming.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Saturday morning.

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