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In-N-Out worker faces drug charges

January 08, 2005

Jackson Bell

Ordering a coke may have taken on a double meaning at a popular

fast-food restaurant.

Kenny Liera, a 23-year-old assistant manager at In-N-Out, was

arrested Thursday night at work on suspicion of selling cocaine out

of the restaurant's parking lot, Glendale Police said.

Acting on anonymous tips, police set up surveillance outside the

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restaurant at about 7 p.m., and saw Liera allegedly conduct two

cocaine transactions in an hour in the parking lot, Det. Manny

Fernandez said. Investigators suspect the North Hollywood resident

could have been dealing cocaine for up to a year.

"Basically, he did two narcotic transactions within an hour,"

Fernandez said. "Based on that, he is not new at it and has several

clients."

Six officers and a sergeant were dressed in plainclothes and were

in unmarked cars Thursday while staking out the restaurant on Harvey

Drive.

Officers first noticed Liera get a call on his cell phone and go

into the parking lot to allegedly sell the drugs, police said. When

officers stopped the man after the transaction, he told them he

bought the cocaine from Liera, Fernandez said.

A short while later, the investigators observed another man pull

up to the store and call Liera on his cell phone, Fernandez said.

When Liera came out, he was arrested, Fernandez said.

Police found two bags of cocaine on Liera, and about 15 more in

his car, Fernandez said. Liera had nearly an ounce in total, with a

street value of about $1,500, Fernandez said.

Police do not plan to cut Liera a deal to bust any other drug

traffickers up the chain, police said.

"From the information he gave us, we believe he has no one

worthwhile to [inform on] to get leniency," Fernandez said. "And we

like to be pretty strict and not give him any leniency because he was

selling cocaine out of one of the most popular restaurants in the

city. It wouldn't be right."

Two Glendale men, in their mid-20s, were arrested for allegedly

purchasing the cocaine during the bust. Fernandez declined to

identify them.

Liera has worked for In-N-Out for about four years, but company

officials are not sure how long he has worked at that location.

In-N-Out does not administer drug tests to employees, company

spokesman Carl Van Fleet said.

As of late Friday, Liera was being held at Glendale City Jail on

$30,000 bail, police said.

* JACKSON BELL covers public safety and courts. He may be reached

at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at jackson.bell@latimes.com.

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