Papa John’s Employees Accused Of Selling Coke Out Of Pizza Boxes

By Keri Blakinger 06/06/17

Two Papa John's employees were busted for allegedly running a drug ring out of the famous pizza chain.

A Papa John's storefront

Would you like pepperoni, extra cheese or a side of blow with that pie? 

Employees at a Papa John’s in Washington state were busted for allegedly selling coke and a bounty of other banned substances out of a store in King County, according to authorities. 

A six-month investigation dubbed “Operation Extra Olives” netted five arrests in the area of Sammamish, a small city east of Seattle. 

Cops kicked off their undercover investigation back in December 2016, after getting a tip about the backdoor operation at the local pizza place. The sheriff’s office sent in detectives to buy drugs four separate times, with the shady sales set up in the Papa John’s parking lot. 

"What the detectives would do is they'd order pizza and go out and wait in the parking lot," sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West told CNN. "The employee would bring the pizza out and in the box would be the cocaine." 

The cheesy operation got its name from the request drug buyers would make to get their special order: “Give it extra olives.” When the accused dough-slinging dealers ran out of their wares, they referred detectives to their friends.

Last week, Sammamish police and Bellevue police raided drug hotspots, including the Papa John’s in question. 

Authorities netted coke, ecstasy, oxycodone, LSD, marijuana, meth and $28,000 in cash from the bust, and swabs showed coke residue around the cash register. The five men arrested include two men from Bellevue, and three from Sammamish, all between the ages of 18 and 26, according to the Miami Herald.

The restaurant chain quickly stepped up to condemn the pizza-centric drug operation. "Papa John's has zero tolerance for this type of offensive and illegal behavior," the company said in a statement over the weekend. 

"The franchisee has confirmed that the employees involved with this situation are no longer employed and we apologize for their actions. The franchisee is working in full cooperation with local law enforcement to resolve this matter."

The day after the bust, health inspectors searched the pizza place for evidence of drug residue before greenlighting the store’s reopening. 

“The franchisee took immediate action steps, with Health Department oversight, and the location was cleared to reopen,” the company said.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.