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TORRANCE : Downtown Bar Shut After Drug Sting

January 27, 1994

The City Council voted to shut down a downtown bar where state officials say employees sold rock cocaine during an undercover sting operation.

In a 6-0 vote Tuesday, the council decided to revoke the license of the bar, Scorpio I, at 813 Van Ness Blvd.

Juan Vazquez, an agent with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department, said he purchased rock cocaine from employees five times during July and August. The Torrance Police Department initiated the sting after nearby residents complained that the bar could be blamed for stabbings, shootings, drunk driving and urinating in public.

The bar was closed last month after the city's License Review Board revoked its business permit. Hever Corral, owner of Scorpio I, appealed to the council, arguing that he was not aware of the drug transactions until the sting.

"He had absolutely no knowledge of the events taking place or reason to suspect that they were taking place," said his attorney, Gilbert Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also argued that before the sting, there were no drug-related arrests at the bar and that undercover officers never saw any evidence of sales.

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