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Sting Nets 41 Arrests in Sale of Beer to Minors

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles police said Thursday they arrested sales clerks at 41 of 60 businesses for selling alcohol to minors during three recent sting operations in the western San Fernando Valley.

In some cases, alcohol was repeatedly sold to the same teen-age undercover officer, police said.

The purchases of beer were made at liquor stores, mini-markets and service stations by a 19-year-old female reserve officer June 3 and Sept. 17, and by that officer and a male counterpart, also 19, on Monday, Sgt. George Thomas said.

Police said they have turned over information on the arrests to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which will consider action against the businesses. The state could fine the businesses or suspend or revoke their alcoholic beverage licenses, police said.

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The clerks have been charged with selling alcohol to minors, a misdemeanor. They could be fined or sentenced to County Jail time.

“Our undercover operatives were having no problem at all buying alcohol,” Thomas said. “It is getting out of control.”

Complaints Received

Thomas said that the stings were organized against businesses that had been the subject of complaints from citizens, including parents.

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All the arrests were made immediately after sales. A majority occurred Monday, when 26 clerks from among the 34 locations targeted that day were arrested on suspicion of selling beer to the minors, Thomas said. Each clerk was cited and released at the scene, he said.

During the stings, the reserve officers told their age or showed their driver’s licenses when asked by clerks, Thomas said. Still, in several cases, the clerks sold beer to the reserve officers.

Thomas said he thought that some of the clerks “don’t even understand the law, and there are some that do but are blatantly selling anyway.”

Thomas said clerks at two of the locations sold to the reserve officers during each of the three stings. He identified those businesses as a Mobil mini-mart in the 6400 block of Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park and the Alta-Dena Dairy store in the 7100 block of White Oak Avenue in Reseda.

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One clerk at the Mobil mini-mart sold beer to the female reserve officer twice, Thomas said.

Thomas said ABC officials 2 weeks ago revoked the alcoholic beverage license of the Kwik Stop Mini Market in the 7200 block of Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park because a clerk sold beer to one of the reserve officers, and the store had a previous record of being cited for similar problems.

Thomas said the sting operations will continue in the same area, particularly through the holiday season when there is a higher rate of drunk driving involving minors.


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