Illegal drugs and firearms seized from downtown New Yorker Nightclub by Salt Lake police

Aug 27, 2023, 10:31 AM | Updated: 2:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department executed a court-authorized search warrant at the New Yorker nightclub, located at 60 West Market Street, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

During the search warrant on Saturday morning, detectives seized four firearms, more than 100 bottles of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and cash.

On Sunday, SLCPD said 24-year-olds Kody Valdez and Fetuao Joseph Fusitua were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.

According to the police affidavit, Fusitua was an employee of the New Yorker when the search warrant was executed. Police found a “distributable amount of cocaine” and a firearm on Fusitua.

Valdez was also arrested during the search warrant and was found with “distributable amounts of marijuana,” a single pill of Adderall, and a firearm, according to the affidavit. During a post-Miranda interview, Valdez admitted to distributing marijuana while armed with a firearm.

Detectives with the Salt Lake City Police Department said this raid came after nearly 8 weeks of investigation and an uptick in patrols and police visibility.

“We saw a rash of violent crime happening down here on Market Street,” Brent Weisberg, SLCPD spokesperson said. “Our Bike Squad did a remarkable job. Our officers were immediately responsive: increasing patrols and reassuring neighbors and business owners that they were safe.”

In early June, patrol officers noticed a dangerous trend. Weisberg said groups of people would drink until extremely intoxicated and then initiate fights in parking lots near the New Yorker nightclub.

“Those fights would ultimately result in people pulling out firearms and shooting each other,” Weisberg said. “Our tipping point came when we had someone die in our community. They were shot and killed in June, and we knew we needed to take a focused and intentional look at what was happening down here.”

The area in question is close to West Temple and Main Street in the downtown Entertainment District.

“We are just a stone’s throw away from main street,” Weisberg said. “Families are going out to dinner and shopping; we will not tolerate this level of violence.”

Between June 9 and July 15, 2023, the efforts of the enhanced patrol operations resulted in the arrest of 15 people, the seizure of six firearms, including three rifles, more than 30 traffic stops, and more than 50 community contacts with officers. Additionally, officers have seized cocaine and marijuana during their work.

One injured, one in custody after shooting in Salt Lake City, police say

“We do believe there is criminal conduct happening at the New Yorker,” Weisberg said. “We have witnessed gunfire spill onto our streets after people drink too much alcohol and turn to guns. This was happening between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on and near Market Street.”

The Salt Lake City Police Department’s SWAT Team, Special Investigations Unit, Gang Unit, Violent Criminal Apprehension Team, Central Patrol Division Bike Squad, Pioneer Patrol Division Bike Squad, and the SLCPD’s Public Order Unit all assisted with executing Saturday’s early morning court-authorized search warrant.

As a result of Saturday’s search, officers booked two people into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail on charges of unlawful drug possession with the intent to distribute and the illegal possession of a firearm. The names and ages of the two men arrested were not immediately available.

“The search had a lot of risk to it,” Weisberg continued. “And we want to thank all jurisdictions. This was really a department-wide effort to execute the warrant so safely so that no one was injured. There were many people in the club when we arrived shortly after 1 a.m., and everyone complied. We have boots on the ground, and safety is of utmost importance.”

Salt Lake City Fire also responded Saturday morning, shutting down the New Yorker nightclub and noting the structure did not meet the fire code.

Valdez is facing felony charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance.

Fusitua is facing felony charges of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

KSL TV’s Michael Houck contributed to this story. 

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Illegal drugs and firearms seized from downtown New Yorker Nightclub by Salt Lake police