Local 24 Exclusive: Inside Shelby Co. Sheriff's Booze Sting

Local 24 Exclusive: Inside Shelby Co. Sheriff's Booze Sting

Caught in the act, Kroger and several other Shelby County businesses are in big trouble for selling alcohol to minors. The businesses were all part of a sting operation conducted by the Shelby County Sheriff's Metro DUI task force.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Caught in the act, Kroger and several other Shelby County businesses are in big trouble for selling alcohol to minors. The businesses were all part of a sting operation conducted by the Shelby County Sheriff's Metro DUI task force.

The team of 12 uniform and undercover officers, along with two college students who are under 21, headed out around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The first stop was Arlington Liquors on Highway 70 in Arlington.

"My goal was to have zero, and on the first stop it was a sale," said Sgt. Robert Elliot with the Task Force.

Elliot said an employee at the store sold booze to a minor. After the sale went through, the task force entered the store and issued the employee and the business misdemeanor citations.

A minor also purchased a beer at the Three Guys Pizza Pies on Highway 64 in Arlington, and a Kroger Kwik Shop in the same shopping center.

"We are trying to combat the fatalities, our young children are out here having crashes, and they are dying," said Sgt. Karla Lipford. "They are drinking and driving."

In a statement to localmemphis.com, Kroger Spokesman Joe Bell said Kroger had policies in place to prohibit such sales.

"Even though the Convenience Store business in Memphis, known as Kwik Shop, is a totally separate operating unit of the Kroger Co., Kroger has very strict policies about the carding of Customers to prevent the purchase of beer by minors," Bell wrote in an email.

"I can't answer for the Operators of the Kwik Shop group, but for Kroger grocery stores it is an automatic termination and I feel, with reasonable assurance, it is their policy also," he added.

Last year, the task force, which gets funding from the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office, conducted 15 beer stings and wrote 91 citations. So far this year, the team has issued 111 citations.

On Tuesday, the task force hit 32 stores and had buys at five of them.

Along the way there has been controversy, with several bar and restaurant owners claiming entrapment.

"If you ask us how old we are, we will, we tell them how old we are, we don't use fake IDs, we even use real IDs, if they ask for it, we hand it to them. If they make the sale, they have to suffer the consequences for the sale," said Sgt. Elliot.

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