A local restaurant owner was caught serving more than just pizza out of her locally owned pizzeria and now faces 60 years in prison for running an illegal drug business out of the store.
Arlington Heights resident Maria Garza was found to be selling illegal drugs out of her suburban pizzeria. Garza was convicted of manufacturing and delivering heroin and cocaine, and trafficking meth out of her business, according to WGN.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez called the drug ring a major narcotics trafficking operation, according to Patch. Garza was accompanied by 5 others in the operation, each of whom faces drug conspiracy charges.
Garza was the owner of DeLuca’s Pizzeria, located in Buffalo Grove, until December 2011 when a surveillance camera caught wind of her side business. The footage captured by the camera shows Garza and a co-worker arranging for the delivery and sale of drugs to their customers.
Approximately 7.5 kilograms of heroin, 1 kilogram of methamphetamine and 5.1 pounds of marijuana, all with an estimated street value of $900,000, was found during the investigation, according to Patch.
“This is an excellent example of an effective joint law enforcement investigation that will have a direct impact on the street sale and distribution of narcotics in Chicago and suburban communities,” Alvarez told Patch. “We will continue to target and aggressively prosecute the organized sale and distribution of illegal narcotics throughout Cook County.”
The pizzeria is now out of business as Garza is going through processing in the criminal justice system. She is expected to be sentenced next month for running the illegal drug business.