The Austin Chronicle

Slow-Cooked Felonies

By Jordan Smith, August 5, 2011, News

Three Eastside barbecue joints – including the legendary Sam's BBQ on East 12th – have had their city business permits revoked after police say a total of five employees were busted buying stolen meat. The Austin Police Depart­ment says officers were approached by H-E-B's loss prevention folks in late April with information about "large scale" thefts of meat from its local stores. Police went undercover posing as meat thieves to sell the restaurants their pilfered product; officers sold more than $5,000 in supposedly purloined sirloin and other cuts and kinds of meat. As a result of the sting – dubbed "Operation Meat Locker" – three employees from Willie's Bar-B-Q on East MLK and one employee each from Sam's and La Morenita, also on East 12th, have been arrested and charged with "engaging in organized criminal activity" involving theft, a third-degree felony, for buying stolen meat from APD officers. However, the actual meat thieves remain at large; APD's investigation is ongoing.

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