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Tavern Ordered to Hire Security Guard or Close

November 14, 1986

VISTA — The City Council has ordered the El Sombrero Cafe, a tavern that law enforcement officials contend is the focal point for criminal activity in the city's toughest neighborhood, to hire a security guard or close down.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday, the council also requested that the Sheriff's Department send undercover detectives into the bar in an effort to quell illegal activities.

The Sheriff's Department characterizes the bar as a mecca for drug trafficking, prostitution and violent crime.

Complaints over the facility peaked in September when a deputy was wounded with his own gun during a scuffle with a narcotics suspect in the bar's parking lot. The deputy's partner killed the suspect after he tried to flee.

Since then, the bar's owner, lifelong Vista resident Sal Gonzales, has complained that the council was using his bar as a scapegoat for the incident and other illegal activities in the area. Neither Gonzales nor his attorney, Blake Martinson, could be reached for comment Thursday.

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