Police and state liquor enforcement officials staged raids on a handful of small bars Friday night, arresting 45 women on suspicion of soliciting alcoholic beverages and having most of them deported, police said.
The arrests culminated a three-month investigation involving the Police Department and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, Santa Ana police Sgt. Bob Clark said. The Immigration and Naturalization Service assisted in deporting 41 of the women.
The women, whose identities and ages were unavailable, were accused of trying to coax men to buy them drinks, Clark said. They were arrested on suspicion of violating the California Business and Professions Code, which prohibits drink solicitation by bar employees or by anyone who gets a share of the profits.
Clark said investigators from both agencies began sweeping several neighborhoods after dusk. The women arrested for solicitation of drinks were taken from these bars: El Fracaso, in the 700 block of Harbor Boulevard; the King’s Inn, in the 3500 block of West 5th Street; My Place Bar, in the 1600 block of South Standard Street; Corpus Christi, in the 1200 block of South Main Street; Garibaldi’s, in the 200 block of East Warner Avenue, and the Red Turtle, in the 100 block of South Fairview Road.
Clark said he does not know how the raids were staged, how the women were identified or whether any of them actually solicited drinks from undercover agents, adding only that all the bars will have the incident recorded on their city liquor licenses. Clark also declined to say whether the four women not deported were in jail Saturday.
In addition, several other bars were cited for severe overcrowding and closed for the night, and two people were arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession and held at Santa Ana City Jail.
Patrons and owners of two of the small bars scattered throughout Santa Ana said Saturday that the police acted unjustly and arrested women who were merely having a good time.
“That thing doesn’t happen around here,” growled one patron who refused to be identified, as he sat in the Corpus Christi about noon, nursing a bottle of beer.
Miguela Galvan, owner of El Fracaso, said that she was puzzled by the raid and that nothing illegal was going on in her tiny bar.
She also said she did not know whether any of her women patrons are illegal immigrants. “They come in here and show a green card,” Galvan said Saturday morning as several men circled the three pool tables crammed into the storefront bar. A jukebox blared mariachi music.
When asked whether the women profit by coaxing men to buy them drinks, Galvan said: “They say that? How do they know? I don’t know. Maybe they are just too nice to the men.”