The Smithville Police Department made arrests at three businesses Friday after conducting an undercover investigation into the illegal sales of alcohol to minors.
Police Chief Randy Caplinger says 29 year old Kira G. Clouse, a store clerk at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) and 24 year old Hardik Pravinbhai Patel, a clerk at Village Market on North Congress Boulevard were each charged with sales of alcohol to a minor; while at El Mariachi (BP Station) on West Broad Street, 33 year old Susana Jasmin Saldivar was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allowing a sixteen year old female store clerk to sell beer. The underage clerk was also charged in a juvenile petition with selling alcohol to a minor.
Bond for Clouse, Patel, and Saldivar is $1,000 each and they will appear in General Sessions Court in September.
Chief Caplinger says he and Detective Matt Holmes conducted the undercover operation using a confidential underage informant."This took place on Friday, August 27th here in the city limits of Smithville. We've been receiving complaints from some of the citizens with concerns of underage sales of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products to minors. With a confidential underage informant, we entered eight locations that sell beer in Smithville. He (underage informant) presented his ID at these locations and he was able to purchase alcohol at three of these locations. At one of the locations (El Mariachi), the salesman (female clerk) was actually a minor and she was selling alcohol (in violation of the law) and she did sell to him (underage informant) which is also a violation of the law. The five other locations where the informant presented his ID, the clerks there did an outstanding job. They did exactly what state law requires and he (informant) was turned down and not allowed to purchase alcohol."
In addition to Jewel's Market, El Mariachi, and Village Market, the undercover informant was sent in to all other city establishments that sell beer including Food Lion, Kwik-N-Ezy, Mapco Express, Eastside Citgo, and Wal-mart
Chief Caplinger says police are also concerned about the sale of tobacco products to minors. He adds that while store clerks can't legally sell beer or tobacco to minors, adults who make these purchases for minors can also be charged with a crime. "In addition to the underage purchases of alcohol, we've also had a concern about the underage buying of tobacco products. Those concerns will be addressed and we will be checking those (businesses) periodically. Under state law if an individual (trying to make a purchase of tobacco) appears to be under 27 years of age, they are to be ID'ed. Even the purchase of an alcohol or tobacco product for a person under the age of 21 for alcohol and 18 for tobacco is against the law and those people (making the purchase for a minor) will be cited with a class a misdemeanor."
In the complaint against Clouse, Police say that on Friday, August 27th at 3:27 p.m. Detective Matt Holmes and Chief Randy Caplinger were present at Jewel's Market on Highway 56 with an 18 year old confidential source, who entered the business, purchased beer from the clerk (Clouse), and then exited the store at 3:30 p.m. with a six pack of Natural Ice beer. Clouse was positively identified as being the suspect who sold the beer to the minor. Clouse was later placed under arrest for sale of alcohol to a minor. Her bond is $1,000 and she will appear in General Sessions Court on September 9th.
In the complaint against Saldivar, police claims that on Friday, August 27th at 4:12 p.m. Detective Matt Holmes and Chief Randy Caplinger were present at El Mariachi (BP Station) at 517 West Broad Street with an 18 year old confidential source, who entered the business, purchased beer from the clerk, and then exited the store at 4:17 p.m. with a six pack of Busch beer. The female clerk who sold him the beer was later found to be a sixteen year old minor and she was placed under arrest for juvenile delinquency (selling alcohol to a minor). Saldivar, who was also in the store at the time, later told police that the sixteen year old clerk was helping her run the store. Chief Caplinger says it is illegal for a minor to sell alcohol to anyone. Saldivar is under a $1,000 bond and she will be in General Sessions Court on September 16th.
The complaint against Patel alleges that on Friday, August 27th at 4:32 p.m. Detective Matt Holmes and Chief Randy Caplinger were present at the Marathon gas station on North Congress Boulevard (Village Market) with an 18 year old confidential source, who entered the business, purchased beer from the clerk, (Patel), and then exited the store at 4:38 p.m. with a six pack of Busch beer. Patel was positively identified as being the suspect who sold the beer to the minor. Patel is under a $1,000 bond and he will appear in General Sessions Court on September 16th.