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Newport Restaurateur Slain

May 07, 1987|From Associated Press

The co-owner of a chain of Mexican restaurants, once accused of being part of a $7-million cocaine smuggling ring dubbed the "Tahiti Connection," was shot to death in his car early today, Orange County sheriff's deputies said.

Joe Luis Avila, 40, of Newport Beach, co-owner of the El Ranchito restaurants, was shot several times in the upper body through the window of his car at the intersection of Santa Isabel and Tustin avenues, in an unincorporated portion of Orange County near the Costa Mesa-Newport Beach border. Avila, his brother Sergio, and nine others were charged in 1977 with involvement in an international cocaine ring dubbed the "Tahiti Connection." The case ended when a federal judge in Hawaii dismissed the indictment because the prosecution erred in the manner it presented evidence to the grand jury.

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