Branson Restaurant Raided 9 lbs of Methamphetamine Recovered on 76 Strip

Micheal Maples FB
Courtesy KSPR (Story Credit Mary Maloney) - with mad props for beating all other news outlets to the story 


BRANSON, Mo. -- A popular Branson restaurant is closed after federal agents found nine pounds worth of methamphetamine.

La Iguana is a California-style Mexican restaurant off the Highway 76 strip. Tuesday afternoon, witnesses said, federal agents raided it and an apartment complex about two miles away. A day after the raid, La Iguana in Branson and another one in Branson West had county signs in the window announcing its abrupt closure.

"This establishment is closed until further notice by the Taney County Health Department," read Tom Cisneros. His company, Ozark Window Tinting, worked on the restaurant's building. Cisneros is also a loyal customer.

"This is actually a great place to eat. I'm from California, so I know all the good Mexican food and this is authentic California tacos and food and it is the best," said Cisneros. "Whatever reason they had for closing, I hope they open up soon!"

Another man, Dennis Johnson, agreed with Cisneros.
Courtesy Matt Fisher FB

"They are all good people," he said of the owners. "I'm an ex-chef and my wife and I just love this place. It's inexpensive; the food is always authentic Southern Californian."

According to a public affairs officer with the Homeland Security Investigations department of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, DEA and officers with the Missouri Department of Revenue, Branson Police Department and the Taney County Sheriff's Office all took part in a "law enforcement operation."

Witnesses said about 10 federal agents raided La Iguana around 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. Most of the agents drove in unmarked black vehicles and some of them had DEA across their chests. Witnesses said they watched as a Branson police car blocked off an area of the parking lot to interested people passing by the busy street.

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Neighbors said La Iguana is more than just a place to get something to eat. Owners also run a check cashing business, money transfer operation, and sell international phone cards.

"I send money back to my sister all the time in Mexico," one man said as he attempted to open the door.

Signs posted in English and Spanish also advertise the services.

Federal agents said the restaurant and a unit at The Vineyards Apartment Complex were part of the raid. An investigator said about nine pounds or four kilos of methamphetamine were found. Police believe the drugs originated from Mexico.

An agent said two people were arrested. Witnesses nearby report a familiar person being taken out of the restaurant in handcuffs. They said the man was born and raised in Mexico and is not a U.S. citizen.

No one has been charged in the raid.
 Graphic Credit Matt Fisher

-----------------------Branson Locals Chime In-------------

"La Iguana...where you can eat all the Mexican food you want and still lose weight!" - Patty Equality Tweedle

 "Speeeeedy Taco!" -  Carl Mazur

"9lbs that's it? Their burritos seemed bigger" -Shea Stafford 

"Authentico from Methico" - Robert Allen Campa

 "Our tacos will blow your mind" -  Kim Fino