Police: Illegal club shuttered in early morning raid in Hazleton

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Hazleton Police and Liquor Control agents descended on a Laurel Street home in Hazleton in a raid that came after a three month investigation into an alleged illegal club at the home. -

HAZLETON — An early Sunday morning raid of a Hazleton home revealed an illegal after hours nightclub, according to police.

Approximately 250 patrons were in the makeshift club at the time of the raid, the report said, and now three individuals are facing charges.

Hazleton police, in conjunction with state Liquor Control Enforcement officers, conducted the raid at 3 a.m. Sunday morning at a home located at 155 N. Laurel St.

Two of the home’s owners, Fernando Ramirez Pinales, 42, and Myra Gonzalez, 36, were arrested and are facing numerous charges in connection with the alleged illegal club.

According to police:

The club would open around 2:30 a.m. after bars are legally required to stop serving alcohol, and would continue operating until the early morning hours.

The location could hold between 100 and 300 patrons, and armed security guards were allegedly stationed at the front and rear of the location.

Police say complaints began to spike in the area for loud noise, large crowds, fighting and other issues last summer.

The raid came after three months of undercover investigation of the club. Undercover liquor control officers say they were able to get into the club, where they say they witnessed things allegedly including illegal drugs, unlicensed alcohol sales and a staff of waitresses, bartenders, cooks and DJs operating.

Windows at the club were tightly covered, police say. The coverings consisted of plywood wrapped in foam, which police say could have created a deadly situation if a fire broke out.

Officers say they were met with resistance when they attempted to enter the front door, but they were able to enter the club, removing the patrons and making three arrests.

Five children were also found sleeping on mattresses on the floor on the second floor of the building.

Police say 100 hookah pipes, a sound system, 90 bottles of liquor and $880 in cash were removed. The Hazleton Fire Department also removed the plywood soundproofing from the windows as a safety precaution.

Pinales was charged with creating a public nuisance, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, illegal liquor sales and conspiracy to sell illegal alcohol. A press release from Hazleton Police also indicates fire, business and construction code violations are possible as well.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, is facing numerous charges relating to an allegedly stolen vehicle taken earlier this month from the location.

A third man, Alfredo Ramirez Pinales, 39, was also taken into custody on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The press release does not indicate whether the two men named Pinales are related.

Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat thanked the Police for their efforts at making the city safe in the press release.

“I apologize to the neighbors; unfortunately, this required time to properly investigate and develop a strong plan to benefit the entire community,” Cusat wrote. “The HPD continues to work hard to improve the quality of life in our town, and we will continue to be proactive as we approach the summer to ensure the citizens can relax and enjoy their homes safely and peacefully.”

Police Chief Jerry Speziale said the shuttering of the bar will do much to make the area safer.

”The closing of this establishment is a major accomplishment in our overall crime strategy because it has disrupted the entire community, because as the bars closed this location opened creating a vacuum for hundreds of people to remain in Hazleton, drinking, using illegal drugs and then ultimately driving on our roadways, fighting in our streets, causing disturbances in the community, ultimately affecting crime, calls for service and the quality of life for everyone,” he wrote.

Hazleton Police and Liquor Control agents descended on a Laurel Street home in Hazleton in a raid that came after a three month investigation into an alleged illegal club at the home.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_IMG_3282.jpgHazleton Police and Liquor Control agents descended on a Laurel Street home in Hazleton in a raid that came after a three month investigation into an alleged illegal club at the home.

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan