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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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April 29, 2022

TABC Arrests Fugitive on Interpol ‘Red Notice’ List

AUSTIN – A man long sought by Mexican federal police for human trafficking charges is now behind bars after he was arrested Friday morning by agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Hugo Texis is currently in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holding facility following his arrest by members of TABC’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU). SIU agents identified Texis as the subject of an active Interpol “Red Notice” issued by the Mexican federal police. He was located as part of a long-term ongoing investigation by SIU agents in the Houston area. Interpol Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence. They are used to alert police in all member countries about internationally wanted fugitives. Red Notices help bring fugitives to justice, sometimes many years after the original crime was committed. When a person is sought for prosecution, they have not been convicted and should be considered innocent until proven guilty. TABC investigators collaborated with agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State as well as Interpol and the Mexican federal police to make the arrest. Local and federal law enforcement agencies also participated in the arrest. Texis was safely placed under arrest and is currently being processed in DHS-ICE facilities. Texis, who is not a U.S. citizen, was previously deported in 2013. The Texas Legislature in 2019 made the investigation of human trafficking a top priority for TABC. One of the ways Texans can assist in the fight is by spotting the signs of potential trafficking at a location and reporting it. If you have information related to this individual or would like to report suspected trafficking, visit bit.ly/tabc-ht for more information. If you are a human trafficking survivor and would like to speak with the TABC victim services coordinator, email Victim.Services@tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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April 27, 2022

TABC Suspends Laredo Bar Following Long-Term Trafficking Investigation

AUSTIN — A Laredo bar is banned from selling alcoholic beverages for 90 days after investigators from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Special Investigations Unit found evidence of narcotics trafficking, prostitution and drink solicitation. Reyna’s Club, 511 San Agustin Avenue in Laredo, was the subject of a TABC emergency order issued this week following a long-term investigation that began in May 2021. TABC agents began the investigation after receiving multiple complaints related to potential human trafficking at the site. The business had also been the subject of multiple calls for service by the Laredo Police Department, including complaints related to public lewdness and assault. A series of inspections by TABC investigators later found cause to suspend the business’s permit for 90 days. Section 11.614 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code authorizes TABC to suspend a business’s liquor license or permit for up to 90 days if it’s believed that the continued operation of the business could prove a risk to public safety. During the suspension, no alcohol may be served or sold at the location. “Crimes such as narcotics trafficking, prostitution, or drink solicitation are often strong indicators of possible human trafficking,” said Bentley Nettles, TABC Executive Director. “As Texas’ sole alcohol regulator, TABC is committed to investigating any potential trafficking taking place in the businesses we license. Organized crime has no place in Texas.” The Texas Legislature in 2019 made the investigation of human trafficking a top priority for TABC, giving the agency the authority to investigate organized crime, including trafficking, prostitution, and drink solicitation, which is the act of overcharging customers when they purchase drinks for bar employees. The case remains under investigation. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov.

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April 13, 2022

TABC Cancels Houston Bar's Liquor Permit Following Human Trafficking Investigation

AUSTIN — A Houston-area bar’s liquor permit has been revoked after investigators from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Special Investigations Unit discovered a suspected brothel operating there. Vegas Nite Club, 12629 W. Hardy Road in Houston, was the subject of a TABC emergency order issued this week following an investigation into allegations of prostitution and human trafficking March 26. During the investigation, TABC investigators made contact with multiple women believed to be working at the location, obtaining information that’s led to both administrative actions being taken on the TABC permit and criminal charges filed against several suspects. TABC Victim Services offered assistance to all of the possible victims of human trafficking identified that night. TABC investigators later served the bar owner with an emergency order requiring them to stop all alcohol sales and service for 90 days. An order permanently cancelling the business’ liquor license soon followed. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Sec. 11.61 requires the Commission to cancel a business’ liquor license or permit if it’s found that “the place or manner in which the permittee conducts the permittee’s business warrants the cancellation or suspension of the permit based on the general welfare, health, peace, morals, and safety of the people.” “I’m incredibly proud of the work by our TABC agents, as well as our local, state and federal partners during this operation,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “Prostitution is one of the leading indicators of even more serious organized criminal activity, including human trafficking. TABC will continue to actively investigate and put a stop to any criminal activity taking place in the businesses we license.” Joining TABC on the investigation were the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Division, FBI, Harris County Constable’s Office – Precinct 1, U.S. Department of State and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. The case remains under investigation. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov.

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April 8, 2022

TABC and the Texas Restaurant Association Work Together To Promote Safe Alcohol Delivery, To-Go Sales

AUSTIN – The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) have announced a new effort to promote TABC’s certification course on alcohol delivery safety. The Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery Course (TRAD), much like the TABC Seller-Server Certification, shares with delivery drivers and foodservice establishment operators the necessary information to safely conduct alcohol-to-go deliveries. To facilitate the ease of accessing the TRAD training course and certification, the TRA has added the course to its catalog of training resources available for members across the state. The course is designed for persons who deliver alcoholic beverages to consumers on behalf of a retail business or for a delivery company that holds a Consumer Delivery Permit issued by TABC.  “TABC appreciates the Texas Restaurant Association’s support to get alcohol delivery drivers educated and trained on the law and safety,” said TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “TABC’s TRAD course not only educates drivers on how to make legal and safe alcohol deliveries, certification can also provide protections to delivery drivers and companies if certain mistakes are made during a delivery. TRAD certification helps protect Texas businesses, their workers, and our communities.” By working with the TRA — which represents the state’s $70 billion restaurant industry and a workforce of 1.3 million employees — TABC can reach more alcohol delivery drivers with important public safety information. “The last two years have been an incredible challenge for restaurant and foodservice operators,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, President and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “Without alcohol-to-go, many restaurants would not have survived the COVID-19 pandemic. With alcohol-to-go made permanent during the last legislative session, we are proud to partner with TABC to provide our operators and their employees access to proper safety training to continue successfully including alcohol in their delivery orders.” Click here for more information on the TRA partnership. The course is also available through the TRA and TABC websites.   TABC Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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March 17, 2022

TABC Operations To Identify Retailers Selling Alcohol to Minors Now Under Way

AUSTIN — Agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are in liquor stores, bars, beaches and other locations where alcohol is sold throughout March as part of the agency’s annual spring break alcohol enforcement operations. The operations identify locations where alcohol is sold to minors in violation of state law. Planned activities for 2022 include underage compliance operations, in which TABC agents accompany a minor who attempts to buy alcohol, as well as increased patrols at popular spring break locations such as South Padre Island and Austin’s South by Southwest music festival. “A single alcohol-related death during spring break is one too many. That’s why our agents will be out in force throughout March to identify locations selling alcohol to minors,” said Bentley Nettles, TABC Executive Director. “TABC’s goal is to ensure alcohol retailers are doing their part to keep Texas roads and businesses safe.” The agency works with retailers before the operation to help identify best practices and provide tips on how to avoid some of the most common alcohol-relation violations, Nettles added. “This operation is not intended to penalize retailers who are doing their best to operate during an extremely busy period,” Nettles said. “Our goal is to ensure business owners have the tools they need to successfully operate while keeping Texans safe.” Businesses that sell alcohol to persons under 21 could face a civil fine or suspension of their license to sell alcohol. Employees who conduct the sale could also find themselves charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. During last year’s spring break operations, TABC agents conducted 2,322 inspections and found just 75 violations, representing a compliance rate of more than 97%. For more information about TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. TABC Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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Feb 17, 2022

TABC Executive Director Honored for Support of Texas Wine Industry

AUSTIN — The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association honored Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Executive Director Bentley Nettles on Thursday with the 2022 Frank Madla Award in recognition of his ongoing support of the state’s growing wine industry. This year's presentation of the Madla Award marks the first time a member of the state’s alcohol regulatory agency has been named for the honor, which recognizes “diligent and altruistic commitment to furthering the Texas Wine and Grape Industry through the Legislature and government agencies.” Previous honorees include former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Texas Sen. Jane Nelson and Texas Rep. Charlie Geren. Nettles, who has led TABC since 2017, said his tenure has focused on building relationships with members of the alcoholic beverage industry, which contributes billions of dollars to the Texas economy while making the state a nationally recognized destination for wine tourists. “There’s no question that the Texas wine industry is a huge economic driver, and my role at TABC is to ensure that trend continues,” Nettles said. “I’m deeply grateful to all of the members of TWGGA for this honor, and I’m proud of everything that’s been accomplished over the years.” TABC is the state’s sole alcohol regulatory agency and oversees the licenses and permits of more than 58,000 alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers statewide. TWGGA represents more than 500 licensed wineries across Texas, who contribute more than $13 billion annually to the Texas economy. To learn more about TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov.  TABC Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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Feb 15, 2022

TABC Cancels Liquor Permit of Harris County Business Accused of Prostitution

AUSTIN – A long-term investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) has cost a Houston-area business its liquor license after it was found to have promoted prostitution on its premises. Smiles Sports Bar, 4348 Telephone Road in Houston, may no longer sell or serve alcohol in the wake of administrative violations for Place or Manner – Prostitution. The business’ owners agreed to turn over their liquor license Jan. 26. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Sec. 11.61 requires the Commission to cancel a business’ liquor license or permit if it’s found that “the place or manner in which the permittee conducts the permittee’s business warrants the cancellation or suspension of the permit based on the general welfare, health, peace, morals, and safety of the people.” TABC’s Special Investigations Unit opened the case in June 2021 after it was alleged that the business had promoted prostitution as well as engaged in suspected human trafficking. The investigation found evidence of prostitution as well as drink solicitation, which is the practice of overcharging customers for drinks in exchange for allowing them to spend time with certain servers – typically, young women known as ficheras. Assisting in the investigation were members of the HTRA, including officers from the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “There is absolutely no place in the Texas alcoholic beverage industry for this type of behavior,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “Research shows that prostitution is often a warning sign for other serious organized criminal activity including human trafficking. TABC will continue to play a lead role in shutting down any and all TABC-licensed businesses being used as a source of revenue for organized crime.”   TABC Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov  

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Jan 14, 2022

TABC Issues Emergency Order Suspending El Tucanazo’s Liquor Permit for 30 Days Following Deadly Jan. 8 Shooting

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has issued an emergency order suspending the liquor permit of a Houston-area bar for 30 days following a deadly shooting that left one person dead early Jan 8. Costa Lounge, d/b/a El Tucanazo, 7136 Clarewood Drive in Houston, was served with the 30-day emergency order Jan. 11. The suspension will remain in place for 30 days effective immediately. A hearing to affirm, amend, or set aside the order will be held the State Office of Administrative Hearings Jan. 22. Section 11.614 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code authorizes TABC to suspend a business’ liquor license or permit for up to 90 days if it’s believed that continued operation of the business could prove a risk to public safety. During the suspension, no alcohol may be served or sold at the location. The case remains under investigation by TABC and the Houston Police Department. TABC Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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Jan 11, 2022

TABC Highlights Its 24/7 Fight to End Exploitation During Human Trafficking Prevention Month

AUSTIN — As state leaders and law enforcement officers prepare to mark National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is joining with the Office of the Governor and others to help combat this crime in the Lone Star State. As the regulator of the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas, TABC plays a key role in stopping organized crime – including human trafficking – taking place within licensed alcohol retailers such as bars, nightclubs and convenience stores. “TABC is on the front lines when it comes to stopping human trafficking in Texas,” TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly said. “What some people forget is that alcohol retailers such as bars or restaurants can sometimes serve as a legitimate front for traffickers or other organized crime syndicates. What TABC is doing is using our authority over all alcohol retailers, distributors and manufacturers to build a network of industry members, law enforcement agencies and citizens to stop this blight on our state.” TABC’s Special Investigations Unit is responsible for conducting long-term investigations into suspected human trafficking taking place within licensed businesses, and agents frequently join forces with local, state and federal partners on long-term, undercover investigations into organized crime across the state. The agency also employs a victim services coordinator to assist trafficking victims in obtaining much-needed medical and social services after they’re freed from suspected traffickers. Ultimately, stopping trafficking comes down to the actions of everyday Texans who take a stand against organized crime in the Lone Star State, Lilly said. “Hands down, the most important tool we have in the fight against human trafficking is the cooperation of Texans and their willingness to stand up for the health and safety of their communities,” Lilly said. “It’s absolutely critical that all Texans make themselves aware of the warning signs of human trafficking, and that we all commit to do our part to help end this terrible crime.” As part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, TABC’s social media channels will feature stories from educators and law enforcement on the fight against human trafficking in Texas. To learn more about TABC’s mission to stop human trafficking and to get additional resources, visit our Stop Human Trafficking page. To learn more about the Office of the Governor’s Preventing Human Trafficking initiative, visit the Preventing Human Trafficking webpage. Media Contact: Chris Porter – Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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Dec 20, 2021

TABC Assisting Travelers, Protecting Texans During Busy Paisano Border Travel Season

AUSTIN — Employees of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will spend the first two weeks of January assisting travelers entering Texas during the busy Paisano travel season. Paisano season refers to a roughly two-week period following the holidays in which travelers with families living in Mexico cross the border to visit their relatives. In many cases, the returning travelers bring alcohol back into the state with them, which requires a short stop at one of TABC’s Ports of Entry facilities at the border. State law requires all travelers entering the state with alcohol to pay a small tax and administrative fee on any spirits, wine or beer brought into Texas. TABC Ports of Entry employees assess and collect the tax while keeping an eye out for any potentially illegal or dangerous beverages, according to TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “The Paisano season is obviously an extremely exciting and hectic time for travelers, and we want them to know that TABC will have additional staff members standing by to help travelers bring their alcohol into Texas safely and legally,” he said. “We’ll also be paying special attention to disallowing any potentially dangerous beverages before they can enter the Texas marketplace.” Illicit beverages include those brought in unapproved containers, such as gasoline cans or unlabeled bottles, as well as those suspected of containing illegal or dangerous substances. During the 2020 Paisano season, TABC regulatory compliance officers (RCOs) disallowed 162 illicit alcohol containers while approving more than 146,798 containers for entry into Texas. The agency also collected nearly $511,606 in revenue at the Texas-Mexico border during the period. For more information about TABC’s mission at the Texas-Mexico border, visit: tabc.texas.gov/poe. Media Contact: Chris Porter – Public Information Officer chris.porter@tabc.texas.gov

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