Gathering the evidence that an after-hours bar in southwest Houston selling liquor without a license appeared nearly effortless for the Houston Police Department: A plainclothes officer paid a $15 cover charge at Avani Lounge on May 6, walked into the bar and ordered a beer. Shortly thereafter, uniformed police officers entered the bar and, according to the Harris County Attorney's Office, "the bartenders responded to a signal from a security guard and ran out the back of the bar."
No matter. The club's owner, Jacint Jones, was arrested and charged with selling liquor without a license and during prohibited hours. The bartender who served the officer was also arrested, and the Harris County Attorney's Office obtained a court order to temporarily shut the place down until it obtained the proper liquor license.
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When Houston police came back to the bar to serve the temporary restraining order, they found 600 people inside at 2:40 a.m. this past Sunday.
Apparently, the owners were not too worried about police coming back.
According to the County Attorney's Office, the bust is part of a joint initiative with the Southwest Management District to go after businesses that harbor criminal activity in neighborhoods. In their lawsuit, county attorneys say the club is "notorious for criminal activity and violence," and say police have responded to numerous calls for service usually during after-hours at the bar, but they do not elaborate as to why.
A court hearing is scheduled for May 26 in the case.