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News Releases

Get the latest headlines from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. You can look through all of the agency’s recent news releases on this page.

Members of the media should contact the TABC public information officer to make an inquiry.

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Sept 13, 2022

Statewide TABC back-to-school undercover operations catch 131 retailers selling alcohol to minors

AUSTIN — A statewide effort by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce Texas’ underage drinking laws found that 14% of the more than 1,100 retailers visited during the operation sold alcohol to a minor. The finding was part of a statewide push timed to coincide with the start of the college fall semester. During the operation, minor-aged volunteers under the supervision of undercover TABC agents entered licensed retailers where they attempted to buy alcohol. While similar operations regularly occur across the state, the back-to-school operation targeted retailers in cities where colleges or universities are located during the month of August. In all, TABC agents conducted a total of 1,131 underage compliance operations across the state, finding a total of 131 violations, or a compliance rate of 86%. The high compliance rate is a testament to retailers’ efforts to keep employees informed of the law’s requirements, according to TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham. “Our state’s alcohol retailers are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing the illegal sale of alcohol to minors,” Graham said. “While TABC will continue to hold violators accountable, our first goal is to serve as a resource to help educate businesses and ultimately keep them in compliance.” Businesses cited for selling alcohol to a minor could face TABC administrative action including a civil fine and the temporary or permanent suspension of their liquor license. Individual employees who sell alcohol to minors could also face Class A misdemeanor charges. Businesses seeking more information about underage drinking laws can download free educational materials at www.2young2drink.com and tabc.texas.gov/public-safety/retailer-resources/. Business owners can also request free training by TABC auditors on best practices to avoid selling alcohol to minors. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Aug 23, 2022

TABC cancels liquor permit for Hidalgo Co. bar following human trafficking investigation

AUSTIN — A Hidalgo County bar can no longer sell alcohol after its liquor permit was canceled by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission following a human trafficking investigation. The owner of El Rio Bar, 3609 La Homa Road in Mission, surrendered the business’s liquor license following an Aug. 9 meeting with agents of TABC’s Special Investigations Unit. SIU agents began their probe of the business in 2020 after receiving intelligence of possible organized crime including human trafficking. During the investigation, agents seized narcotics and observed multiple incidents of alleged drink solicitation. Drink solicitation occurs when an alcohol retailer allows an employee to solicit drinks from a customer, typically above the customary price. TABC investigators also referred several potential human trafficking victims to non-governmental organizations for victim services. The business was charged with multiple violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, including drink solicitation, prostitution and sales of narcotics by an employee. “By removing this bar’s ability to sell alcohol, TABC agents have cut off a major source of funding for criminal activity in the Mission community,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “Not only does this keep the community safer, but it also makes it easier for businesses who follow the law to operate successfully. I’m proud of the hard work of our investigators, and I’d like to thank the members of the Mission community who stepped up and assisted with this case.” The Alcoholic Beverage Code authorizes TABC to cancel the liquor permit of licensed businesses if the operation of that business is deemed a risk to public safety. To learn more about TABC’s mission, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Aug 22, 2022

TABC appoints Yolanda A. Hall to Deputy Executive Director position

AUSTIN — Longtime public servant Yolanda A. Hall has been appointed to the position of Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, where she’ll oversee day-to-day regulatory and business functions affecting more than 59,000 licensed businesses across the state. Hall, who begins work at TABC Aug. 23, will succeed outgoing Deputy Executive Director and Chief of Staff Matthew Chaplin, who will remain at the agency as Special Counsel to the Executive Director. Hall’s career prior to joining TABC spans multiple decades of high-level budget and business management positions at various state agencies. She began her career in government at the Texas Youth Commission, where she served as a financial analyst and budget manager. After the agency was reorganized into the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Hall served as finance director overseeing 250 staff members as well as multiple efforts related to agency reorganization and consolidation. She was later appointed as Deputy Budget Director for the Office of the Texas Attorney General. “It’s an honor to join TABC at this incredibly exciting time,” Hall said. “TABC has made tremendous strides over the last few years, and I look forward to working with men and women from across the agency to develop new ideas to better serve the people of Texas.” Hall’s expertise as a budget and finance manager made her an ideal candidate for the job, TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “Yolanda’s experience as a business manager and leader make her the perfect choice for the position of Deputy Executive Director,” he said. “I look forward to working with her as we continue the recent improvements to technology, customer service and overall efficiencies here at TABC.” Established by the Texas Legislature in 1935, TABC regulates all aspects of the alcoholic beverage industry, including the manufacture, distribution and sale of beverages across the state. The agency’s mission includes both regulatory and law enforcement functions, and its more than 600-plus employees work to keep Texas communities safe while helping more than 59,000 licensed businesses operate safely within the guidelines set by the Texas Legislature. For more information about TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Aug 9, 2022

TABC set to begin annual back-to-school undercover operations

AUSTIN — Agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are focusing their efforts across the state to ensure alcohol is sold safely and responsibly during the busy back-to-school season. Agents from TABC’s Enforcement Division plan to conduct inspections at businesses located near major Texas universities and will work directly with business owners to scan IDs, such as driver licenses and state ID cards, to identify minors using false identification to buy alcohol. The operation, which begins in mid-August and runs through early September, is part of TABC’s overall mission to keep alcohol out of the hands of anyone younger than 21. During the operation, minors working with TABC will enter businesses to purchase alcohol. If a sale takes place, TABC agents enter the business to notify its managers of the violation. TABC agents will also join security personnel at certain businesses to help screen customers’ IDs as they enter the premises. TABC regularly conducts underage compliance operations in communities across Texas. Over the past 12 months, TABC agents visited hundreds of Texas retailers to curb sales of alcohol to minors. Those operations found that nearly 90% of the retailers visited were fully complying with state alcohol laws. “Our goal with these operations is to collaborate with businesses to ensure they’re equipped to operate safely and successfully, especially as they prepare for a busy back-to-school period,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “A primary part of our job at TABC is to help educate business owners about the best ways to ensure their customers, staff and their surrounding communities remain safe.” Selling alcohol to a minor is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. In addition, businesses cited by TABC for selling alcohol to minors might have to pay a fine and have their license to sell alcohol temporarily suspended. Minors who use a false ID to purchase alcohol could face a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. Businesses with questions about best practices for safe alcohol sales can contact their local TABC office to request training or educational materials. Results of this year’s back-to-school operations will be announced in September. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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July 29, 2022

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission issues emergency order suspending El Paso bar

AUSTIN – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has suspended the liquor permit of an El Paso bar for 90 days following narcotics allegations. Ciro’s Bar & Kitchen East, 1610 N. Zaragoza Road, may not sell or serve alcohol for 90 days according to a TABC emergency order signed by agency leaders Thursday. Section 11.614 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code gives the agency authority to suspend a business’s permit for up to 90 days if the business's continued operations are deemed a risk to public safety. The business remains the subject of an ongoing TABC investigation that began in September of 2020 in response to reports of alleged narcotics sales. The business has also been the subject of more than 100 calls for service by local law enforcement. “Criminal activity at a licensed business not only endangers the surrounding community, it makes it harder for law-abiding business owners to safely operate and support their families,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “TABC will continue to work with our partners in local and state law enforcement to put a stop to violations such as this wherever they are found.” The case remains under investigation by TABC, the El Paso Police Department and the Department of Public Safety. For more information on TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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July 26, 2022

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission names Thomas Graham as next Executive Director

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has selected long-time employee Thomas Graham to lead the agency as executive director.  Graham, who currently serves as director of Excise Tax and Marketing Practices as well as interim director of Licensing, succeeds outgoing executive director Bentley Nettles. Graham has been an integral part of positively transforming TABC since his start with the agency in 2005. He began as an auditor and was assigned to field offices in Waco, Bryan, San Marcos and Austin. Graham was promoted in 2008 to head up the Marketing Practices office at TABC’s Austin headquarters, where he reviewed and approved statewide marketing programs for alcoholic beverage manufacturers and distributors.  In 2013, Graham was promoted to director of Excise Tax and Marketing Practices, overseeing the collection of more than $300 million in excise taxes and other fees annually. He has additionally served as interim Director of Licensing since June 2022, overseeing the licensing and permitting process for more than 58,000 alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers across Texas.  “Thomas is an exemplary public servant, an outstanding manager, and an even better husband and father,” said TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly. “His knowledge of the alcoholic beverage industry, as well as his knack for developing relationships and building trust with the businesses we serve makes him an outstanding choice to lead TABC into the future.”  Graham said he looks forward to working with industry members to continue to build Texas as an economic success story.  “I’m incredibly grateful to the commission for this opportunity,” he said. “This agency’s success is built both on the hard work of our industry members as well as the men and women who work at TABC. I’m honored to work with both these groups as we continue to build a safe and successful industry.”  Graham holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and is a graduate of the Governor’s Executive Development Program at UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.  For more information on TABC, visit www.tabc.texas.gov.  Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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June 29, 2022

TABC encourages businesses to practice safety during busy July 4 holiday

AUSTIN — With Texans expected to flock to parades, festivals and other celebrations during the long Independence Day weekend, officials with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are encouraging alcohol retailers statewide to put safety first and avoid some of the most common alcohol-related violations. TABC agents will be on patrol across the state throughout the holiday, visiting businesses to ensure managers and staff are taking the proper steps to keep their communities safe. Major holidays — especially those which fall on a long weekend — often result in busy crowds at bars, restaurants and clubs, increasing the risk of alcohol-related violations. The most frequent violations include sales of alcohol to minors as well as alcohol sales to intoxicated persons. Both violations can result in fines for a liquor license suspension for the business as well as misdemeanor criminal charges for the employee conducting the sale. “The holiday weekend can be an incredibly busy and lucrative time for alcohol retailers, but businesses put their safety and financial security at risk when they neglect to follow the law,” TABC Chief of Law Enforcement Brandy Norris said. “Now is an excellent time to go over best practices with staff and ensure that anyone who sells, serves or handles alcohol understands the risks and warning signs of underage sales or intoxication.” Businesses across the state are encouraged to have a plan in place to verify customers’ age and ensure staff members are empowered to decline a sale if a customer is showing signs of intoxication. Information on best practices, as well as other resources for retailers, are available at tabc.texas.gov/public-safety/retailer-resources/. For more information about TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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June 21, 2022

Lee County man arrested on multiple counts of selling alcohol to minors

AUSTIN — A Lee County convenience store clerk was arrested June 14 and charged with multiple counts of selling alcohol to minors following an investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Deepak Sidgel, 39, was booked into the Lee County Jail on four counts of Sales of Alcohol – Minor. He was later released after posting a $7,500 bond. Sidgel’s place of employment, Lexington Food Mart, 8889 N. Highway 77 in Lexington, has been the subject of multiple TABC investigations for improper alcohol sales. Sidgel, who has been arrested previously in connection with one of those investigations, now faces a total of five counts of selling alcohol to minors. “Any resident with information on illegal alcohol sales at a business is asked to contact TABC,” said Maj. Oliver Johnson of TABC’s Central Texas regional enforcement office. “Public involvement is critical when it comes to identifying businesses that place the community’s safety at risk. Tips from the public play a major role in holding businesses accountable and keeping Texans safe.” Businesses that sell alcohol to any person younger than 21 could face a fine or suspension of their license to sell alcohol, with repeat violations resulting in a permanent cancellation of the business’s liquor license. Employees of the business who sell alcohol to minors could also face a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and one year in jail. Anyone with information on the ongoing case is asked to contact TABC by emailing complaints@tabc.texas.gov or calling 888-THE-TABC.   Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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June 15, 2022

TABC arrests El Paso man on charges of impersonating an agent

EL PASO — An El Paso man landed behind bars after he claimed he was an agent of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission while visiting a local bar. Christopher Jacob Contreras, 27, was charged with impersonating a public servant, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Contreras was arrested by TABC agents June 13 and booked into the El Paso County Jail. TABC’s El Paso Enforcement Office received reports May 22 stating that a man had identified himself as a TABC agent while visiting an alcohol retailer. He told employees of the business that they had violated the law by selling alcohol to a person younger than 21. When questioned by a manager of the business, the man claimed he needed to speak with his TABC supervisor and left the premises. A subsequent investigation conducted by the El Paso Enforcement Office, with the help of local businesses as well as witnesses, identified the suspect. “We’re extremely grateful to the businesses who immediately reported this suspicious activity and enabled us to identify the impersonator so quickly,” said Brandy Norris, TABC Chief of Law Enforcement. “It’s important to remember that a legitimate TABC agent will always properly identify themselves as working for the agency and will have an official ID or a badge on display when making contact with a business owner or staff member.” The matter remains under investigation by TABC and local officials. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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June 11, 2022

TABC agents assist Harris County deputies during shots-fired response June 11

HARRIS COUNTY — Agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission were among the first to respond to a call of a shooting in progress from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) during a suspected shots-fired situation in the 12800 block of North Roslyn St. in Houston early June 11. HCSO deputies put out the call around 1:25 a.m. advising of possible gunshots in the area. Four TABC agents responded to the call and arrived on the scene shortly after deputies located a 45-year-old man with suspected gunshot wounds. While one of the agents applied tourniquets to stem the victim’s bleeding, the other agents helped sheriff’s deputies secure the scene. In all, two tourniquets were applied to the victim, who was later transferred to the care of emergency medical technicians prior to transporting him to Houston Northwest Hospital. TABC agents, who are commissioned peace officers, are often called upon to assist local law enforcement during emergency situations. “A very large part of our job is providing support to our partners at local police departments or sheriff’s offices,” said Victor Kuykendoll, Deputy Executive Director for Enforcement. “At the end of the day, our primary role is to help keep our entire community – not just the alcoholic beverage industry – safe.” The case remains under investigation by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.   Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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