Even as COVID-19 cases fall across the city, the New York City Sheriff’s Office continues to crack down on reckless behavior that violates pandemic-related emergency orders designed to stop the spread.
The latest such raid occurred early Sunday morning in Jackson Heights, where deputies raided an illegal basement nightclub at Suenos Americano Bar Restaurant Corp, 35-16 Junction Blvd., where more than 300 people crammed themselves into the location and partied without masks.
The dangers weren’t just limited to possible exposure to COVID-19, according to the sheriff’s office. During the operation, the deputies found that four means of egress from the bar had been illegally sealed off, creating a fire hazard.
Five operators of the illegal club were charged at the scene: Michelle A. Parobczyk, 21, of Maspeth; Leo Sierra, 21, of East Elmhurst; John Michael Guaillas, 21, of Corona; Saul Jordy Carpio, 21, of Corona; and Nestor Carpio, 34, of Franklin Square. They were each issued desk appearance tickets for violating emergency orders; Guaillas and the Carpios were also charged with additional counts of disorderly conduct.
The sheriff’s office said the operation began on the night of Feb. 20, when deputies staked out the location and spotted two men letting in groups of between five and 15 people into the bar’s basement through separate entrances.
The bouncers, the sheriff’s office noted, took great care in attempting to cover their tracks — conducting “counter-surveillance walking up and down Junction Boulevard, making sure no one was following or watching them.”
By the deputies’ count, the bouncers had let 220 people into the establishment in three hours’ time.
At about 2:25 a.m. on Feb. 21, authorities said, the sheriff’s deputies moved into the establishment. Upon entering, they spotted two patrons blocking the staircase leading to the basement. The deputies then discovered the locked egresses, which they were finally able to access after patrons pleaded with staff members to let them go.
Inside the illegal basement club, the sheriff’s office reported, the deputies observed 305 patrons inside, drinking beverages provided from an illegally set-up bar, with a DJ booth providing music. Partygoers were also seen dancing and smoking hookah without practicing social distancing or wearing masks.
The sheriff’s office noted that the business faces a $15,000 fine, and could be hit with additional charges of violating the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control laws.
This story originally appeared on amny.com.