Councillors have decided to close two Greenwich Mexican restaurants after they were "taken over" by gangsters, with a drugs kingpin using an upper floor as his "office".

Town centre venues Desperados and the High Chaparral above it both had their licenses revoked following a licensing committee hearing which looked at allegations of underage drinking, violence and a "gang leader" using the mezzanine floor to conduct his murky business.

At Woolwich Town Hall on March 16, police detailed a series of incidents, including an incident captured on CCTV of one of the Ozborme brothers - who ran the venues - "acting aggressively" whilst armed with a taser.

An undercover police operation uncovered drug-dealing at the venues, resulting in two men being sent to prison last year, one of whom had also been seen smashing a champagne bottle over someone's head in the street before being ushered back into the bar.

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Lawyer Julian Skeens, speaking on behalf of the Ozbormes, said: "Sorry, sorry and sorry again. These premises have not been run to the standard that the licensees themselves want to run them and I'm sure they're not being run to the standard that you you'd like to happen."

He added: "Clearly what happened is this organised crime gang came to these premises and took them over."


Asked why the gang had been allowed to establish such a presence at the venue and police had not been called Mr Skeens said his clients had been scared, though was unable to say exactly why

In what may be a first for a licensing hearing, the ward's Councillor Maureen O'Mara read out quotes from News Shopper's recent front page story on the issue, in which Cuneyt Ozborme said: "If you're a drug dealer and you come to my restaurant, you're spending money, what am I supposed to do?"

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Cllr O'Mara said: "When I read those quotes I thought 'out of the mouth of babes' really."

"Do you believe everything you read in the papers?" the brothers' lawyer shot back.

And fellow councillor Cllr Aidan Smith explained how, shortly after he first moved to the area, he boarded a bus and heard someone saying: "Desperados - do you remember when we used to go there in Year 10?"

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Manager Yavuz Ozborme

Mr Skeens pointed out his clients had appointed a new manager with West End experience who was keeping a lid on any trouble, while the Ozbormes had a licence application pending for a £100,000 refit of the venue, rebranding it as Buffalo.

He said the licence review had been "a wake up call, big style" for the brothers.

But the committee, chaired by Councillor Jackie Smith, revoked the licences, arguing the Ozbormes could not be trusted to run the venues properly. They have 21 days to appeal the decision before it takes effect.