Fort Worth

North Texas nightclub magnate didn't stop cocaine sales 'because then we lose business'

Alfredo Hinojosa ran an "empire" of nightclubs across North Texas, according to a federal indictment, raking in more than $100 million from 2014 to 2016.

At the same time, Hinojosa allowed dealers to sell cocaine in his clubs' bathrooms to keep business booming and then helped launder money for a Mexican band's tour bus.

Hinojosa, 57, pleaded guilty this week to charges of conspiracy to manage a drug premises and conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirements, according to court documents.

The case was initially filed in October 2016, and a new indictment was filed against Hinojosa and 10 other defendants on Tuesday.

Hinojosa has not yet been sentenced. As part of the plea deal, he agreed to forfeit $200,000, a Ferrari F355, a Land Rover Range Rover, a Hummer H2, a Mercedes-Benz and a Gillig Motorhome, the court documents said.

His attorney, Frank Perez, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

The case also involved two former Dallas police officers, Eddie Villarreal, 48, and Craig Woods, 60, who worked security at Hinojosa's clubs. Villarreal and Woods pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI this week for lying about their involvement with Hinojosa.

Their attorneys could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

It was unclear Wednesday night which of the remaining defendants have been taken into custody.

'Man, they got to do business'

Hinojosa owned more than 40 nightclubs across the state, including the Far West, Medusa and OK Corral clubs in Dallas and the OK Corral club in south Fort Worth, on the north side of La Gran Plaza. The clubs were still open this week, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

At each location, Hinojosa allowed a crew of "certain selected" dealers to sell cocaine in $20 baggies in the restrooms. In a recording obtained by authorities, Hinojosa said, "we can't really clean it [up] because then we lose business," the indictment said.

"Man, they got to do business," Hinojosa said in the recording. "I told them we don't care . . . we just don't want for everybody to see him . . . They want it [cocaine] right there. They don't want to go looking downtown."

The indictment named the dealers, who face drug charges in the case: Eloy Alvarado Montantes, 36, of Grand Prairie; Jose Omar Santoyo Salas, 32, of Arlington; Erick Johan Lopez Cuellar, 30, of Fort Worth; Raul Nunez, 25, of Grand Prairie; and Cesar Mendez, 27, of Dallas.

While Hinojosa did not take a cut of the drug sales, he "relied on drug sales inside the nightclubs to drive profits," the indictment said.

Two of his managers, Miguel Casas, 47, of Dallas and Martin Salvador Rodriguez, 55, of Dallas were also indicted in the case and face charges of managing a drug premises.

Laundering details

Hinojosa's connection to the money laundering was through Humberto Baltazar Novoa, 39, of Dallas, a band promoter who had worked for Hinojosa since the 1990s.

Novoa, the manager of a band named La Energia Nortena, wanted to a buy a touring bus for the band for about $140,000, the indictment said.

Novoa had the money, according to the indictment, but asked Hinojosa to launder about $100,000 of it "to disguise the source of the funds."

Hinojosa had his employees deposit the money into two separate bank accounts belonging to Multi-Events Arena, Ltd., an entity owned by Hinojosa that he had listed as a "performance theater" business, the indictment said.

Novoa faces charges of conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirements and making a false statement in an immigration document, according to court records.

Villarreal, a former Dallas police officer who left the department in 2015, had offered to help FBI agents with their investigation into Hinojosa in 2015, and then told Hinojosa about what the agents were investigating. When the FBI asked Villarreal if he talked to Hinojosa, he lied and said he had not, the indictment said.

Woods, the other former Dallas police officer who left the department in March, falsely denied to FBI agents that he had written a police report that "downplayed a violent incident" at one of Hinojosa's Dallas clubs, the indictment said.

Ryan Osborne: 817-390-7684; Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST

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