A sting operation to prevent underage drinking lead to the arrest of three people. Photo Credit: San Diego Sheriff

An undercover operation aimed at reducing underage drinking resulted in the arrest of four suspects Thursday in East County, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

The “shoulder tap” operation involved deputies and agents from the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) and was conducted at six retail locations in Alpine, Lakeside and unincorporated El Cajon.

Three minor decoys were sent to the half-dozen liquor stores where, over the course of the operation, 29 adults were asked to purchase alcohol for the teenagers.

Of the 29 adults who were approached by the decoys, four people did buy alcohol for the minor, said Sgt. Jeffrey Creighton.

Additionally, the teen decoys tried on their own to buy liquor inside six retail establishments. One location sold the minor alcohol.

Authorities did not provide any information about which retailers were targeted and which one sold liquor to the decoy.

The adults who purchased alcohol for the teen were arrested for furnishing alcohol to a minor, which is a misdemeanor offense, the sheriff’s official said.

The enforcement operation was funded by a $100,000 ABC grant awarded to the sheriff’s department in July.

The money is being spent in the communities patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department to reduce alcohol related crimes and educate ABC licensed businesses. The goal of the ABC Alcohol Policing Partnership Program is to collaborate with local law enforcement agencies to help make communities safer.

The cooperative efforts of the Sheriff’s Department and ABC are aimed at building positive working relationships between all stakeholders and increasing the safety of San Diego County.

Anyone with information on licensed liquor establishments providing alcohol to minors can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477, or by calling the Sheriff’s Department’s non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200.

— Staff report

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