Less than a month before he was slated to go to trial for his alleged role in a South Austin heroin-trafficking organization, Amado "Mayo" Pardo – the patriarch of Jovita's Tex-Mex restaurant and music venue – has died from complications connected to terminal liver cancer and other health issues.
Pardo was among 15 people arrested and charged federally on June 21, 2012, in connection with a year-long joint federal-state-local heroin trafficking investigation code named Operation Muerte Negra, or Black Death. According to the government, Pardo was the ringleader of a trafficking organization that included his brother, Jose, and wife, Amanda. FBI Special Agent Steve Hause testified during detention hearings last summer that court-ordered wiretaps included "thousands" of hours of calls that netted investigators details about the allegedly extensive dope-dealing operation. Austin Police noted in a June press conference that among those arrested were longtime players in the heroin trade, some with histories going back three decades.
Pardo had terminal liver cancer and suffered with Parkinson's disease. At a July 2012 hearing in his case, Pardo's lawyer Ben Florey argued that Pardo was a well-liked and well-respected member of the community with deep ties across Austin who was sick and should be released on bond pending trial (indeed, Pardo was named Best Mayor of South Austin by the Chronicle in 2009). Florey proffered medical records and a letter from a nutritionist, among other items of evidence, who wrote that Pardo was doing well with alternative therapies, including a special macrobiotic diet – a diet Pardo certainly wouldn't have in lockup. Ultimately, magistrate Judge Mark Lane denied that request, sending Pardo, who looked frail in his red-and-white striped jail uniform, back behind bars to await his trial, slated to begin Feb. 11.
Pardo held on for several months before his liver started to fail and he was moved from jail to a hospital ICU where he remained for three weeks, Florey said. Ultimately Florey requested that Lane reconsider his denial of bond and on Jan. 14 Lane agreed, sending Pardo home where he could "be taken care of by family and close friends as he continued to decline," Florey said. Pardo died Tuesday night, Jan. 22, Florey said. He was 64.
Although he only knew Pardo for a relatively short period (and under less than ideal circumstances), Florey said he was taken with how well-liked and well-meaning a man Pardo was. His death is "a loss to everyone," he said. "He was a good man who did good things for the community."
Find more on Pardo and the Jovita's heroin case here.
Copyright © 2014 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.