Four Basin Bars Forced To Close Their Doors

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

Some West Texas bars have apparently been serving up more than just alcohol and now the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission has shut them down. The move comes as the result of a multi-year undercover investigation where bar employees were actually caught selling drugs.

According to Agent Ronald Swenson, all stem from a gambling complaint they received back in May of 2009 stating employees at the Good Times Lounge in Fort Stockton were selling narcotics. From that point on, the investigation took off.

"When we went in there for the gambling, we also included the possibility of purchasing narcotics or looking for those types of violations while we were there. We were introduced by a bartender to a person who did sell us narcotics, a small amount of cocaine," Swenson said.

He says since both Sandy's Lounge and Goodtimes Lounge are owned by the same person they established a rapport between the employees and were able to make multiple narcotic purchases out of those two bars. But that wasn't the only bars that were busted. Cash's Bar in Pecos and Archway Bar and Grill in Monahans were also in violation.

"We were able again to go into the bar, meet with the bartenders, build a rapport and begin buying narcotics from employees and patrons of the bar that we had been introduced to by employees," Swenson said.

Swenson says although they do undercover work from time to time, this type of undercover work is fairly new to them.

"We do a lot of undercover work, if you want to use deep undercover it's fairly new to the agency, but undercover work is not new," Swenson said.

Swenson tells NewsWest 9 their job is far from being over in the Basin.

"We might be the guy sitting next to you with a baseball hat on, we are not gonna walk in with a badge and a gun. We are still there, maybe not as often, we are there but we are still out. We are still very proactive and definitely still working the bars," Swenson said.

The result of this sting included 11 people indicted on federal charges including conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Swenson said that local, state and federal agencies were also involved in the undercover operations.