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Chipotle marketing chief indicted in drug ring sting

Chipotle Mexican Grill exterior

Chipotle Chief Creative and Development Officer Mark Crumpacker was indicted yesterday as part of a roundup by New York City authorities of a cocaine delivery ring and its alleged customers.

Crumpacker, a key architect of the burrito chain’s recovery plan, is accused of buying cocaine from a ring that used car services to deliver the drug to customers in apartments, restaurants, hotels and delis. 

Chipotle told the media that Crumpacker has been placed on administrative leave until the matter is resolved.

The indictment came as a key element of the chain’s turnaround effort, a limited-time customer loyalty program, was about to begin. Crumpacker helped to develop that initiative, Chiptopia, which starts today.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said yesterday that they had investigated the high-end cocaine ring for a year. The operation, run by Kenny “Jay” Fernandez, would charge a premium of several hundred dollars to deliver the cocaine to customers. 

“Selling cocaine in a variety of bars and clubs throughout Manhattan, the ringleader also allegedly sold to NYPD undercovers on more than a dozen instances,” Bratton said in a statement.

Crumpacker was one of 18 business executives who were indicted as alleged customers of the ring. Others included a Fox Business Network producer.

Crumpacker’s legal problems are the latest setback for Chipotle, which was derailed at the end of 2015 by a series of food poisoning incidents. The chain’s same-store sales for the first quarter fell by more than 29%.

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