PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The owners of several city bars have been charged with money laundering in a case Providence police say is connected to a large-scale drug trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Stop the Flow.”
Donny Sanchez, the 36-year-old owner of South Beach Restaurant on Atwells Avenue, and Yohanna Sanchez, the 35-year-old owner of Club Flow on Cranston Street, were each charged last week with money laundering and multiple counts of failing to file tax returns, according to Providence Police Major David Lapatin.
Andry Sanchez, 34, and Ydel Sanchez, 31, were also charged in connection with the investigation. Andry is accused of money laundering and failing to file tax returns while Ydel was arrested for gun possession after being convicted of a violent crime.
Lapatin said all of the individuals are related. The investigation is being led by the Providence Police Intelligence and Organized Crime Unit. A Providence Country Grand Jury returned 119 indictments related to the probe, according to a court affidavit.
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Yohanna was previously among 30 people charged in May arrested on drug charges following a 10-month investigation by Providence police. Detectives said she and five others were the leaders of a heroin and fentanyl trafficking ring, which spanned from Providence to Fall River. At the time, police said they executed 13 search warrants and recovered $65,000 in cash and more than a kilogram of heroin during the investigation.
During a morning press conference, Lapatin said the latest arrests followed raids on residential properties on Sackett and Dover Streets as well as the South Beach Restaurant and Club Flow. He said detectives seized more than $300,000 in cash and other property.
Lapatin said Providence police worked closely with the attorney general’s office and the state division of taxation during the investigation.
Business filings with the R.I. secretary of state’s office list Donny Sanchez as manager of at least two other bars and a construction company. Filings with the R.I. Board of Election show he contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on April 29, 2015. A spokesperson for the mayor’s campaign said the contribution will be donated to the Anchor Learning Academy, a recovery high school at the Providence Center.
Andry Sanchez is listed as the owner of EMM Construction, according to filings with the secretary of state. Ydel Sanchez is listed as the owner of an investment company. Yohanna only appears to own Club Flow.
Lapatin said Providence police will ask the Board of Licenses to close South Beach Restaurant and Club Flow.