Two Aspen eateries involved in drug bust
A drug raid involving more than 50 officers shut down two popular downtown restaurants before the dinner rush Friday.Eight people were arrested at Cooper Street Pier and Little Annie’s Eating House. Some suspects were restaurant employees; none were managers or owners. The warrants are sealed by court order so the names have not been released.Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson said the arrests were made without incident, though another suspect was being sought. Charges on the warrants include possession of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy to distribute and money laundering. Law enforcement officials would not say what led to the bust, but the investigation began in May and involved an unusual level of cooperation between law enforcement agencies. A dozen or so police vehicles carrying officers from the Aspen police, federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Revenue, Snowmass police, and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office arrived simultaneously at Cooper Street Pier and Little Annie’s about 4:15 p.m. and cordoned off parts of the area with yellow tape.Karen Flower, of the DEA, said the interagency effort “came about through sharing information.”DEA agents and policemen crowded into the kitchen of Little Annie’s and searched for a couple of hours, though the bar stayed open until mid-evening. Cooper Street Pier was immediately closed and DEA agents and ICE agents could be seen through the front window.”My core team was pretty shocked,” said Mike Otte, a representative for the owners of Little Annie’s. “Annie’s is one of the oldest restaurants in town. Our employees have probably been with us longer than most businesses in town.”The restaurants, two of Aspen’s most recognizable names and popular local hangouts, were under investigation since May. The investigation is ongoing.”They cordoned off the alley,” Otte said, “hit Annie’s kitchen and Cooper’s kitchen at the same time. Cooper’s is down the alley from Annie’s so you can only suppose what was happening in the alley.””If it turns out that we had legal (problems) there, then I’m absolutely happy that this got nipped in the bud. I won’t stand for it. My manager won’t stand for it and neither will my kitchen manager.”Eric Shelton, a bar manager at Cooper Street who was not working Friday night, said, “I’m going to be there at 8 a.m. to open. I’m going to take it as it is in the morning.”Employees at Little Annie’s declined to comment, at the direction of Otte. Heinz Wolf and Charles Wolf, the owner and manager of Cooper Street, could not be reached for comment. “None of us want to see bad things happen,” Otte said. “But while we’re dealing with solving those issues we don’t want to step on the good people who are just here working hard, trying to live their lives. In the restaurant business there are unsung heroes, people who don’t get noticed, do good work, and just try to take care of their families.””None of us want to see bad things happen,” Otte said. “But while we’re dealing with solving those issues we don’t want to step on the good people who are just here working hard, trying to live their lives. In the restaurant business there are unsung heroes, people who don’t get noticed, do good work, and just try to take care of their families.”
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