Winnipeg —; The Sutherland Hotel on Main Street is being forced to close down its beverage room for a month after a police raid found employees were selling drugs.
Manitoba Liquor and Gaming imposed the 30 day liquor suspension, following a police raid last winter.
Police say employees who were members of a gang were found to be dealing crack cocaine.
Undercover officers were sold crack on 18 separate occasions according to police, according to documents from the Liquor and Gaming authority which quotes a police report.
57 Manitoba Warrior gang members were arrested last January in what police called Project Falling Star. Guns, cash and drugs were recovered. Those charges remain before the courts.
The owner Boris Kirshner was not arrested but tells Global News he knew drugs were in his bar.
“We all had our suspicions that drugs were happening. I suspect drugs are sold in every single bar in Winnipeg, it’s unavoidable and I don’t see it as my job as an owner to stop criminal activity, I don’t have a badge or a gun to protect myself with.”
But Sherri Garrity, with the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba says it is Kirshner’s responsibility.
“Compared to just getting a fine, this suspension is a harsh penalty,” said Garrity.
Kirshner says since the raid last year, he’s bought out his partner and is working to clean the place up.
“In my opinion it’s already going in the right direction, staff that were charged over a year ago are no longer working here and haven’t been for a while, I have brand new staff.”
A community activist in Point Douglas who has worked years to rid the area of crime says this is a good day.
“We’ve worked hard to get them to do something about this place,” said Sel Burrows,”But the Warriors have moved back in, just two months a guy was beat up as staff watched.”
Kirshner says that’s not the case and has asked Burrows to help him clean up the place.
“I’ve actually contacted him today and we’re going to sit down and talk about how he can possibly help me out.”
Burrows says he’s more than willing to help.
The 30 day liquor suspension starts on February 25.
Kirshner will lay off 5 staff members but vows to reopen.
“I’ve already guaranteed we will open our doors in 30 days and I will do some renovations in the meantime and fix the place up a little bit, hopefully come out swinging.”