A Coachella caf is closed for health code violations, but News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 learned there was also a possible drug ring operating inside the business.
The Coachella Narcotics Task Force and Special Investigation Unit raided Las Flores Restaurant last Friday. The large, turquoise building sitting at 7th Street and Grapefruit Boulevard attracts a lot of people — but perhaps for the wrong reasons.
News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 spoke to Deputy Armando Munoz with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He said upon serving the search warrant, investigators found methamphetamine in the restaurant.
Owner of Las Flores, 51-year-old Lorena Gonzalez, and employee Jose Navarro, 56, are accused of meth-related crimes.
“People were arrested and will be charged with narcotics for sale, conspiracy, and selling within 1,000-feet of a school,” Munoz said.
Due to a preexisting medical condition, the two suspects are still in the hospital so they haven’t been booked into jail yet.
It’s unclear how authorities began investigating the caf, but News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 spoke to about a dozen neighbors and business owners nearby, and no one would talk to us on camera.
Our crew was even threatened to be ‘put out’ if we got near the business again. All of the people we spoke to feared retribution, saying a known drug ring operated out of Las Flores.
“It isn’t a violent neighborhood, it’s just along a busy street,” said Deputy Munoz.
Officials with the Riverside County Department of Health said the restaurant was shut down for code violations and contamination issues because it didn’t meet the minimum ‘C’ rating.
We reached out to the business but were hung up on several times.
The owner who was arrested, Lorena Gonzalez, left a note on the restaurant’s door stating Las Flores would reopen the last week of January.
Las Flores is legally allowed to operate once the Health Department clears the violations. News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 will report more details as soon as they’re available.