Undercover TABC sting busts businesses selling alcohol to minors

March 2, 2013 9:04:56 PM PST
It's illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 in Texas. But some businesses still do it, which is why law enforcement across the state went undercover looking to bust those who didn't ask for ID.

It's not spring break yet, but we're almost there and that has the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on alert.

"We don't want our youth having access to the alcohol," said Lt. Tana Travis with the TABC.

All over the state on Saturday, the TABC ran sting operations, testing whether or not retailers would sell alcohol to minors.

Lt. Travis said, "We do them along all of the corridors that lead to the coast in Texas."

The first stop on our ridealong was an H-E-B at I-45 and Woodridge. The 18-year-old minor went in empty-handed and came out with a six pack of beer.

"The employee did not check the minor's ID," Lt. Travis said.

That means a citation for a class A misdemeanor for the clerk and an administrative inquiry for the grocery store. H-E-B tells us they will cooperate with any investigation.

James Coney Island's corporate office, however, has not responded to our phone call after the minor bought beer at an I-45 location in Webster. Just minutes before that, she bought one at a Pappas BBQ and Floyd's Cajun Seafood.

"I just walked in, went to the cash register and ordered a beer," the minor said. "In the second one, I walked into the bar and sat down and had a conversation with the bartender and then ordered a beer. Once I have the beer, I pay for it, get up, and leave."

Pappas told us no comment. Floyd's told us their policy is to ID anyone in question and that the bartender will be disciplined and the issue is under investigation.

But the one man who refused to sell the alcohol did talk to us on camera.

"She looks like she's old enough, but when you look at her face and her id she's not old enough, not even 20," said store owner Mahmoud Musallam.

Since September the TABC says nearly nine out of ten businesses checked for ID. Unfortunately, they tell us that wasn't the case Saturday.

The TABC tells us that if the undercover minor is asked her age, she must be truthful and if asked for ID, she must provide a legal driver's license.

In this operation, the agency checked 27 businesses in our area in one sting and issued seven citations.

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