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Sweep nets 100 percent compliance

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Undercover sting finds businesses denied alcohol sales to underage operatives

By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos businesses earned a perfect score during Thursday night’s alcohol compliance sweep.

Owners and employees not only denied service to underage operatives involved in the sweep – they did it with conviction. A woman at one establishment even scolded the two 18-year-old Santa Fe operatives for attempting to purchase drinks and promptly escorted them out the front door.

Los Alamos Police Det. Shari Mills was in charge of the three-hour undercover operation conducted in conjunction with Santa Fe’s Special Investigations Division.

“I’m so glad to see that our businesses are taking the offense of selling alcohol to minors seriously. This is exactly the outcome we hope to see when we conduct these operations,” Mills said.

Chief Wayne Torpy agreed.

“This is what I consider to be a successful operation. Our intent is to educate businesses about the laws regarding alcohol sales and to have 100 percent compliance is very rewarding for us,” Torpy said. “What it really demonstrates to me is that during times that we are not monitoring, the availability of alcohol to our minors from local establishments has been significantly reduced.”

The team began their sweep with a visit to the Conoco Gas Station at Diamond Drive and Arkansas Street. Neither young man was allowed to purchase alcohol after the clerks on duty requested their IDs.

Two checkers at Smith’s on Central Avenue also rejected the teens. No sales were allowed at the Hilltop Deli or the Aspen Lounge inside the hotel.

There also were no sales at Chevron on Diamond Drive, Central Avenue Grill or Canyon Bar and Grill.

The team moved back to Smith’s on Central Avenue to conduct 30 minutes worth of shoulder taps in the parking lot. They asked more than

20 shoppers and not one of them agreed to purchase alcohol for the teenagers who were participating in their first undercover operation.

The teens spoke about why they volunteered to help with the compliance operations while riding from one location to another.

“It sounded fun and it’s going to a good cause. Teenage drinking is really bad this year and some of our friends died when their car was hit by a drunk driver,” one youth said.

The other youth agreed stressing the importance of helping to stop teens from having access to alcohol.

The operation was funded by an alcohol compliance grant.