Side Dishes: The DEA comes to Winooski
When Seven Days Online Editor Cathy Resmer called Winooski's Pho Dang for takeout last Friday night, she got more — and less — than she bargained for.
When Resmer arrived at the restaurant, barely 20 minutes after placing the order, she found the property swarming with Drug Enforcement Administration agents. "By the time I got there, there was a big SUV with its tires on the curb," Resmer recalls. "I went into the restaurant and I could see some guys in bulletproof vests that said 'DEA,' and they were questioning a woman."
When a "burly" agent asked if she was an employee, Resmer responded that she was just there to get her food. His response? "The restaurant is closed: You're not going to be able to get your food for a long time." As she turned to leave, sans soup, Resmer saw a man, apparently in handcuffs, being shepherded into the awkwardly parked vehicle.
According to Pho Dang owner Pany Senebouttarath, the raid had nothing to do with her eatery, which is doing business as usual. "I don't know anything about that," she avers. "In the back of my restaurant there's a residency parking lot that belongs to another apartment. It could be customers. We don't know what is going on." Her final word on the matter: "If it had anything to do with my restaurant, I think I would be shut down right now."
Calls to the New England office of the DEA, located in Boston, were referred to Barbara Masterson at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Burlington, who did not respond to the inquiry by press time.