Using 19-year-old cadets in an undercover operation, Ventura County sheriff’s deputies arrested clerks at 13 stores in Moorpark and Thousand Oaks on suspicion of selling alcohol to minors.
Friday’s undercover operation, which encompassed 70 stores and restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages, was part of an ongoing effort by police to curb the consumption of liquor by minors, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.
“We do it every year about this time,” said Sgt. Frank O’Hanlon of the Sheriff’s Department’s eastern division.
O’Hanlon said the department’s cadets are part-time employees who are in college or below the age required to be a full-fledged deputy sheriff. He said many of the cited clerks were also under the legal drinking age of 21. “I’m sure that the average age of a store clerk was around 18 years old,” he said.
Typically, he said, the underage cadets will select a six-pack of beer in a store or order a drink at a restaurant and see if they are allowed to buy it. If the clerk or waiter approves the purchase, a deputy sheriff steps in after watching the transaction, seizes the alcohol and issues a citation.
The Sheriff’s Department also forwards the names of the businesses to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for possible administrative sanctions. The state agency has the power to suspend or revoke liquor licenses.