Businesses busted in underage sting

May 30, 2009 11:49:22 AM PDT
The Precinct 6 constable's office went on the offensive against underage drinking. They sent an underage woman into several east side businesses to see if she could buy alcohol. One store owner who got busted told us she looked old enough so he didn't card her.One shocked convenience store clerk slammed the door on cameras after the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission ticketed her for selling alcohol to a minor working under cover. It happened during a sting organized by Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino.

Store owner V.P. Vargas said, "I know I can tell that they old enough, but that girl looked old enough for me."

Vargas, 91, showed us the tickets he received for selling beer to the undercover minor. Vargas told us he'll start asking everyone from now on.

"Sure," he said. "I got to ask them for it!"

Trevino said, "We think it's a serious concern, a serious matter in Harris County."

Trevino said he teamed up with TABC and the Phoenix House to combat underage drinking to prevent violent crimes.

"Why we think it's so serious is because then it gets into driving, then it gets into violence, even domestic violence where juveniles are involved," Trevino explained.

Vernitta Lanor with the Phoenix House, a prevention and treatement facility, said, "Our stats show that underage drinking begins at the age of nine."

This time officers issued tickets. But if there's a next time, the constable plans to get tougher on the businesses.

Trevino said, "Right now let's just give them a ticket. But we're going to do this again in the near future. Next time we go to the same store, we're going to shut the store down. We'll shut them down and we'll arrest them."

The constables staged the sting operation at 10 businesses. Five of them were in violation. The tickets carry fines that range from $2,000 to $4,000.

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