Man gets 30 years in Jovita’s drug ring case

The brother of a man who federal investigators called the leader of a South Austin heroin ring has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the operation. Jose Pardo, 68, known as “Joe,” was one of 15 arrested in a raid last summer at Jovita’s Restaurant and Bar on South First Street. He was found guilty in February of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and was sentenced with a dozen of the defendants in the case Friday by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. Pardo and Jorge Carrillo, 45, both of Lockhart, were the only two to stand trial. His brother, Amado “Mayo” Pardo, 64, died Jan. 23, nine days after he was released on bond because he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The others pleaded guilty, including Amado Pardo’s wife, Amanda Pardo, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, punishable by a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. Amanda Pardo was sentenced to 10 years. But some who agreed to cooperate with authorities and agreed to testify had Amado Pardo stood trial received only a year in prison. Carrillo was sentenced to more than 15 years incarceration.

Federal investigators say Amado Pardo, a prominent South Austin community activist and the face of Jovita’s, led a ring that distributed heroin out of his family’s restaurant from May 2011 until their arrests in June. At least on one occasion, heroin was processed after business hours, agents said.

Friends and family members wiped away tears in the courtroom Friday as the men and women were sentenced. Jeffrey Finn, 36, who authorities said had direct contact with Amado Pardo and had been willing to serve as a state witness, told the judge he had struggled with a bad heroin addiction since he was 18. “I know there are consequences to my actions,” he said.

He was sentenced to a year in prison.

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