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Police investigate reports of drugged diners at Blacksburg restaurant

Police investigate reports of drugged diners at Blacksburg restaurant


Blacksburg police announced Thursday that investigators are looking into reports that customers were drugged at a town restaurant.

In a news release, police said there were “multiple complaints and social media reports” about people being affected by something put in their drinks at Centro Taco Bar, a restaurant on North Main Street. No evidence has been found to substantiate the drugging, but there is an ongoing investigation involving town police, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority and the state Department of Forensic Science, the news release said.

The supposed drugging involved drinks being tainted with a substance that caused “cognitive impairment,” the news release said.

Centro Taco Bar is cooperating with the investigation, the news release said.

On Thursday afternoon, a man who identified himself as Edgar, but who declined to give his last name, said he that was the co-owner of Centro Taco Bar, and that the restaurant didn’t have a lot of information about the investigation.

“We have no comment, we are working with them,” he said. “They are doing their job and their investigation. We don’t have anything to say.”

He declined to comment when asked if he knew when the investigation was opened or if the police had identified a suspect.

A Virginia records search shows that Edgar Arellano owns the business, along with Saulo Gonzales and Julio Cesar Arellano.

Centro Taco Bar was the employer of Jerry Paul Smith, a 40-year-old man who was killed this week in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech linebacker Ismemen David Etute, 18, was charged with second-degree murder in the case.

Blacksburg police Chief Anthony Wilson and police information officer Josh Teubert did not respond to multiple messages Thursday seeking more information about the cases.

A search warrant filed last month in connection with the Centro Taco Bar investigation said that a woman reported on May 11 that she “believes she was drugged by an unknown employee” there.

According to the warrant, the woman said she had food and drinks, then became disoriented “and started to violently vomit” while still in the restaurant.

The search warrant said a similar, previous incident at the restaurant also was being investigated.

Police asked that anyone with information about the drugging contact the department.

— Mike Gangloff and Mike Niziolek


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