PORTAGE — A cook at Marko's Bar & Grill was taken into custody on drug charges Friday evening at the business after being seen passing a bag of white powder to another person, according to police.
Miguel Cambray-Moreno, 54, of Hammond, put up a fight during the arrest and revealed he was in the country illegally, police said.
But bar owner and Portage City Councilman Mark Oprisko said Monday afternoon that Cambray-Moreno is a legal citizen and has worked at the bar since June 2016.
He said Cambray-Moreno's name matches his Social Security number.
As far as the accusations of drug sales, Oprisko said he has fired Cambray-Moreno.
"I don't condone that kind of behavior," he said.
Police said they responded to the restaurant at 2385 Willowcreek Road shortly before 4:30 p.m. Friday as Cambray-Moreno was leaving a restroom.
When confronted by police, Cambray-Moreno denied doing anything wrong and then reportedly attempted to flee back into the restroom, police said. He attempted to reach into his pocket during the confrontation and wound up on the floor with an officer before being brought under control, police said.
Officers said they found seven clear baggies containing 8 grams of white powder, along with four pills.
He also had a Mexican Consulate identification card and told officers he was an illegal immigrant, police said.
He faces felony counts of dealing cocaine and possessing cocaine, and misdemeanor charges of possessing a controlled substance and resisting law enforcement, police said.
"I'm thankful that our officers were not injured during the suspect's physical resistance and likely attempt at flushing his drugs down the bathroom toilet," Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said.
"Anytime the Portage Police Department can get a dealer of drugs off the streets that helps saves lives," he said. "We will continue our efforts to reduce the scourge illegal drugs distribution and abuse have on our county."