The Albany Dougherty Drug Unit is ramping up efforts to stop convenience stores from selling alcohol to underage people. A recent sting operation has put them on high alert after nearly a dozen stores sold to teens.
The numbers are startling, 11 out of 18 stores in Dougherty County sold beer to a 17 or 18 year-old. That's 61%, a number officials say is just too high. "We've run these four years ago and we were down into the 30 percent averages. About one out of every third store that we checked we would have a sale. But this is just not acceptable," said Major Bill Berry the ADDU Commander.
Six officers and two teens were involved in the March 8th undercover sting operation. Two of the stores even sold the beer after looking at the teen's ID. The owner at the Quikmart on Sylvester Road, checked it- twice.
District Attorney Greg Edwards says the cases will be brought to court.
But some of the store owners we talked to, claim they're innocent, including the clerk at Neighborhood Grocery on Johnson Road. Those that live down the street from the store were surprised to hear of the violation.
"When I went there, like I said I had to show I-D. And I was very unaware. I've never seen any young children up there buying alcohol the times I went there," said Sandra Roberts, who lives down the street from Neighborhood Grocery.
But officials are confident their evidence will prevail.
"Most of them said no, it wasn't us or several of them denied it. But in our operations our undercover people wear a recording device that's not only audio, but it's also video," said Major Bill Berry.
Edwards says alcohol is the first gateway drug that just about every teenager uses and this sting operation shows authorities they need to ramp up efforts to get alcohol out of the hands of young people.
"That's why it's very important that every step be taken to maintain the integrity of beer and alcohol sales. And that's why we're going to continue these operations and prosecute those folks that violate the law," said Edwards.
Berry says they a high number of complaints sparked this operation, but after looking at the results, they're planning to do this on a more regular basis.
District Attorney Greg Edwards says most of the clerks or owners are facing misdemeanors, which carry up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. But some could face felony charges, depending upon their history.
ADDU held a news conference this afternoon to discuss and under age alcohol sales sting. They had complaints that underage people were buying alcohol in the city.
On March 8th the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit conducted an underage drinking bust. The investigation was sparked after officials received numerous complaints from concerned citizens.
Authorities set up the sting operation using two teens- 17 and 18- to buy six packs of beer and a snack. The teens used their regular ids when carded. 11 out of the 18 stores checked sold the alcohol to the underage person.
Major Bill Berry says 61% sold alcohol to the teens, which he says is unusually high.
The last time a sting operation like this was held was about four years ago. Berry says they plan to begin checking more frequently.
District attorney Greg Edwards says the majority of the offenses are misdemeanors, but those that have prior history could face felony charges.