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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 9, 2021

TABC Reminds Texans of the Tragic Dangers of Not Drinking Responsibly

AUSTIN — As Texans return to bars and restaurants following the end of pandemic restrictions, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is asking residents and businesses to remember that they have a part to play in combating overconsumption and keeping Texans safe. The agency, which regulates the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol across Texas, is observing Alcohol Awareness Month throughout April. The yearly observance is part of an effort by all levels of government to provide help to people with alcohol use disorder. “Alcohol is an important part of the Texas economy, and the vast majority of consumers and businesses do the right thing by consuming and serving responsibly,” said TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “Unfortunately when a small number of people neglect the laws that protect our health and safety, it’s often innocent Texans who end up paying the price.” As the state’s sole alcohol regulator, TABC agents investigate cases where the illegal sale or service of alcohol leads to serious injury or death. Some recent high-profile cases illustrate how failure to follow the law can result in tragic loss of life: 2016: Jocelyn Valero — Houston-area restaurant El Muelle was the subject of a joint TABC/Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigation after staff were alleged to have sold alcohol to Edin Palacios, who was later accused of causing the death of Jocelyn Valero in an alcohol-related crash as she was returning from her prom. The investigation found that Palacios had been allowed to consume nearly a dozen beers before leaving the business. He was later sentenced to 32 years in prison, and the business was charged with selling alcohol to an intoxicated person and paid a $15,000 fine. The bartender who served the drinks was also arrested and charged with selling alcohol to an intoxicated person. 2017: Matthew Ellis — Matthew Ellis, 20, had just arrived at Texas State University in San Marcos and attended a pledge party for the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. A few hours later, he was found unresponsive in a nearby apartment with a blood-alcohol level of .38 (four times the legal limit). Ellis died of alcohol poisoning, and it was determined that 21-year-old Austin Rice, a sophomore, had illegally provided the alcohol that contributed to Ellis’ death. Rice was sentenced to two years’ probation, and the Phi Kappa Psi Texas State chapter had its charter revoked by the fraternity’s national organization. 2018: Chloe Robison and Salma Gomez — A crash involving a 17-year-old driver who had purchased alcohol from a Humble convenience store left two Atascocita High School students dead and a store clerk charged with selling alcohol to a minor. Gumaro Munoz Campos of Humble was arrested by TABC and charged with selling alcohol to a minor after an investigation uncovered evidence indicating he sold alcohol to Jaggar Smith, 17, the night of the accident. Smith was later charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter after the car he was driving struck a tree, killing passengers Chloe Robison and Salma Gomez. Both girls were scheduled to begin their junior year of high school just weeks after the accident. In addition to encouraging responsible service and consumption, TABC wants to be sure Texans with substance use disorders know help is available: Texas Health and Human Services outreach, screening, assessment and referral (OSAR) service U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline: 800-662-4357 (800-662-HELP) For more information on responsible alcohol service, visit TABC’s YouTube channel. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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March 31, 2021

Most Businesses Put Safety First During Spring Break Celebrations

AUSTIN — Leaders from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are expressing thanks to alcoholic beverage industry members after a three-week statewide operation found the vast majority of businesses took action to prevent alcohol sales to minors and intoxicated patrons during the busy spring break period. The large-scale operation, the first following Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to fully reopen Texas bars and restaurants March 10, worked to identify businesses that improperly sold alcohol in violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. Under state law, it’s illegal to sell alcohol to a person who is younger than 21 or intoxicated. In total, TABC agents conducted 2,322 inspections between March 11–28, filing just 75 administrative cases against licensed businesses. Most inspections took place along the Texas Gulf Coast, and in urban centers with major colleges or universities. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the results of this year’s operations,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “For many of these businesses, spring break represented the first time they could fully open their doors in more than a year. Despite this, the vast majority of businesses placed the safety of their customers first and were able to enjoy a safe and successful spring break.” Businesses which sell alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated person could face possible TABC administrative action, such as a civil fine or a suspension of the business’ alcohol license. Employees who improperly sell alcohol could also face a misdemeanor criminal charge, leading to a fine or jail time. To learn more about TABC’s public safety efforts, visit tabc.texas.gov/public-safety. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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March 1, 2021

TABC Agents Working To Protect Health and Safety of Texans During Spring Break

AUSTIN — Agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will visit liquor stores, bars, beaches and other locations where alcohol is sold throughout March as the agency kicks off its annual spring break public safety operations next week. The operations identify locations where alcohol is sold to minors and intoxicated persons in violation of state law. Planned activities for 2021 include undercover operations, in which TABC agents covertly monitor business operations for compliance, as well as efforts to ensure intoxicated patrons aren’t served alcohol. “The goal of this operation is not to penalize retailers, but to help them understand the importance of following the law and putting the safety of their customers first,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. Before the operations, TABC auditors will contact several alcohol retailers in the most popular spring break destinations to provide education and answer questions about best practices for preventing the sale of alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons. Businesses that sell alcohol to people younger than 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. Most of the operations will take place in and around cities with major colleges or universities and popular destinations along the Texas Gulf Coast. Other operations will occur during spring break to include investigating suspected organized crime such as human trafficking, narcotics trafficking and money laundering. To learn more about TABC’s public safety efforts, visit tabc.texas.gov/public-safety. (This article was updated March 3, 2021, to align TABC’s enforcement efforts with Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order No. GA-34.) Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer media@tabc.texas.gov

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Jan 11, 2021

TABC Calls on Texans To Help Rescue Victims From Human Traffickers and Promote Message That 'Texans Are Not For Sale'

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission joins the state and nations around the world to mark Human Trafficking Prevention Month and is renewing its call for everyday Texans to do their part in fighting organized crime in the Lone Star State. By reporting suspicious activity and promoting human trafficking awareness, everyone can help combat trafficking. As the state’s sole regulator of the alcoholic beverage industry, TABC leads investigations of potential trafficking within agency-licensed businesses such as bars, convenience stores and nightclubs. Since 2013, TABC’s Special Investigations Unit has shut down more than 100 locations with suspected ties to organized crime, including human trafficking, money laundering, prostitution and narcotics trafficking. A number of those investigations took place during the most recent fiscal year, in which TABC agents identified or rescued nearly 100 potential trafficking victims while canceling the liquor permits of multiple businesses with ties to human trafficking. Putting an end to human trafficking within TABC-licensed businesses is a top priority for the agency, according to Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “The Texas Legislature recognized the incredibly important role TABC plays in fighting human trafficking and amended the Alcoholic Beverage Code to make this mission one of our top priorities,” Nettles said. “By working with our law enforcement partners at all levels of government, and with the support of the Legislature and everyday Texans, I’m confident we can expand on our success and make a difference in the lives of the victims of this horrible crime.” One of the ways Texans can assist in the fight is by spotting the signs of potential trafficking at a location and reporting it to TABC using the TABC:Mobile app or by calling 888-THE-TABC. “This mission simply can’t succeed without the help of concerned citizens,” Nettles said. “Information or tips provided by the public are often the first step in identifying potential trafficking, bringing the criminals to justice, and freeing the victims.” To learn more about TABC’s role in fighting human trafficking, visit bit.ly/tabc-ht. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Nov 13, 2020

TABC Empowers Texas Veterans To Start Businesses in the Alcoholic Beverage Industry

AUSTIN — As the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Empowering Texas Veterans initiative begins its second year, the agency invites military veterans from across the state to learn more about available assistance for service members looking to start their own business in the alcoholic beverage industry. The initiative, launched in 2019, partners veterans who have established a business in the industry with protégés who want to begin a business on their own. The mentor will advise the protégé on issues and challenges associated with establishing a new company. “Our number-one goal with this program is to make sure there is no wrong door for veterans seeking information about breaking into the alcoholic beverage industry,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “We are proud to work with our partner agencies to ensure eligible veterans are directed to the right people with the right answers as they take their first steps into the industry.” As the state’s regulator of the alcoholic beverage industry, TABC ensures mentors are able to assist potential business owners throughout the application process. Multiple Texas state agencies, including the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Veterans Commission and Texas Comptroller, assist both mentors and protégés by providing administrative support as well as information on issues such as veterans’ benefits, licensing fees and more. For more information about the program or to download an application, visit the TABC Veterans page. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Nov 3, 2020

Alcohol Permits for Eight Businesses Suspended Following Operation To Protect Texans

AUSTIN — A statewide sweep of more than 1,700 bars and restaurants by agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission resulted in 30-day suspensions for eight businesses found in violation of the state’s COVID-19 protocols. TABC agents continue to take part in Operation Safe Open, inspecting businesses to ensure they’re following state standards to slow the spread of the coronavirus. These requirements include indoor customer capacity limits of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants, along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers. In Texas counties with high hospitalization rates, the standards are even more stringent. Agents conducted 1,715 inspections over the last week, including 427 in the city of El Paso, where additional agents were deployed last week to assist with compliance operations. In addition to the eight suspensions, 43 other businesses received warnings. El Paso is in a Trauma Service Area where high hospitalization rates have been reported. Bars in the city are not allowed to open, and restaurants can only have 50% capacity. “These violations represent a very small number of the more than 20,000 licensed businesses inspected by TABC since the beginning of May,” TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly said. “A large majority of business owners are showing their commitment to keeping customers and employees safe, and we’re grateful for all of their hard work. TABC is committed to assisting the industry as we all work for a safe Texas.” “Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “I’m incredibly proud of all the TABC employees working to ensure Texas bars and restaurants are able to operate safely. Our goal from the start has been to educate business owners about the requirements of the governor’s executive orders, and our Enforcement, Legal and Communications teams have done outstanding work to keep the industry and the public informed on how to stay safe while helping to reopen the Texas economy.” The businesses issued an emergency order for a 30-day permit suspension are: El Paso Rockstar Burger Bar – 217 N. Stanton St. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – 3737 N. Mesa St. Amarillo Bodega’s – 709 S. Polk St. Lubbock Kong’s – 1707 Texas Ave. Dallas CJ’s Billiard – 4848 Military Parkway IdleRye (doing business as Bitter End/Wok Hard Deep Ellum) – 2826 Elm St. El Globo Taqueria Restaurant – 212 S. Llewellyn Ave. College Station The Corner – 401 University Drive TABC is strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity and will pursue emergency license suspensions if there are violations that threaten public health and safety. TABC has the authority to suspend any license that poses a continuing threat to the public welfare. The first infraction may result in up to a 30-day license suspension, and the second may result in up to a 60-day suspension. Find TABC’s resources for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic and view a map of counties where bars can reopen at tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 26, 2020

TABC Now Offering Training Course for Alcohol Delivery Drivers

AUSTIN — A new training program from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission allows employees or contractors of eligible alcohol retailers to earn a certification as an alcohol delivery driver. The Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery certification (TRAD) is available to employees or contractors of businesses which hold a TABC Consumer Delivery (CD) permit who make alcohol deliveries anywhere within Texas. The online-only course is administered directly through the TABC website, with two-year certifications costing $25 per person. Students of the course will learn critical best practices related to the safe delivery of alcohol, including checking a delivery area’s wet/dry status, checking customer IDs and ensuring alcohol is not delivered to an intoxicated person. Businesses whose drivers are certified through the program could be eligible for some protection from liabilities in the event a driver violates the law, similar to the “Safe Harbor” law available at brick-and-mortar alcohol retailers. “The people of Texas have spoken: Delivery of alcoholic beverages is here to stay,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “As the state’s regulator of alcohol, it’s critically important that we help drivers and their employers make the best choices when it comes to selling and delivering alcohol safely and within the guidelines established by the Texas Legislature.” A new video from TABC provides a detailed look at some of the most common best practices when delivering alcohol. For more information about the TRAD program, visit our Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery (TRAD) page.

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Oct 23, 2020

First-of-Its-Kind Training Course Will Help Rescue Human Trafficking Survivors

AUSTIN — A new course from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and its partners provides crucial training to prepare peace officers across Texas to combat human trafficking and rescue survivors. The agency joined forces with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) to produce the new continuing education course, which will keep Texas officers at the forefront of combating these crimes by learning to recognize and investigate signs of human trafficking. The course was developed by TABC with assistance from TEEX and will be administered statewide free of charge to officers using the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s online training portal. The online training will allow officers to receive continuing education hours and meet one of the requirements to obtain an advanced peace officer proficiency certificate while empowering them to help stop a crime that’s believed to impact more than 200,000 people in Texas alone. A new video produced by TABC illustrates the trauma experienced by thousands of human trafficking survivors across the Lone Star State. As the state’s sole authority regulating the alcoholic beverage industry, TABC plays a leading role in investigating and stopping suspected human trafficking taking place in state-regulated bars, nightclubs and other businesses where alcohol is sold. “Texas is No. 2 in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking, and it’s an unfortunate fact that these crimes can sometimes involve businesses licensed by TABC,” said TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “It’s incumbent on all Texans to do their part to help end this terrible crime. With their successful records of developing and deploying coursework to tens of thousands of Texas peace officers, our partnership with TEEX and TCOLE was a natural fit for this project.” The multi-agency effort represents a unified approach among Texas agencies to put an end to trafficking, according to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “Human traffickers are a disease within our society that needs to be eradicated,” Sharp said. “Along with our partners, officials with the Texas A&M System and TEEX are equipped, willing and eager to do our part to help capture these predators and bring them to justice.” “Ending human trafficking in the state of Texas — in all its forms — will require the vigilance of every Texan,” said Dr. John Ray, director of the TEEX Institute for Law Enforcement and Protective Services Excellence. “This whole-community approach has been exemplified in this multi-agency effort to more effectively address this heinous crime, as well as raise public awareness.” Officers interested in taking the course may contact their department’s TCOLE liaison or TABC’s Training Division at 512-206-3333 for more information. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 20, 2020

Alcohol Permits for Six Businesses Suspended Following Operation To Protect Texans

AUSTIN — A weeklong effort by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce the state’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols resulted in emergency orders to suspend the liquor licenses of six businesses. As part of Operation Safe Open, agents inspected businesses across Texas to ensure they’re following state standards to slow the spread of the virus. These requirements include indoor customer capacity limits of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants, along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers. Agents conducted 1,344 inspections over the last week. “These violations represent a very small number of the more than 20,000 licensed businesses inspected by TABC since the beginning of May,” TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly said. “A large majority of business owners are showing their commitment to keeping customers and employees safe, and we’re grateful for all of their hard work. TABC is committed to assisting the industry as we all work for a safe Texas.” “Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “I’m incredibly proud of all the TABC employees working to ensure Texas bars and restaurants are able to operate safely. Our goal from the start has been to educate business owners about the requirements of the governor’s executive orders, and our Enforcement, Legal and Communications teams have done outstanding work to keep the industry and the public informed on how to stay safe while helping to reopen the Texas economy.” The businesses issued an emergency order for a 30-day permit suspension are: Ampersand — Fort Worth (Bledsoe Street) Lux Lounge — Houston The Whippersnapper — Dallas The Standard — Houston Spire — Houston Sol Billares — Houston TABC is strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity and will pursue emergency license suspensions if there are violations that threaten public health and safety. TABC has the authority to suspend any license that poses a continuing threat to the public welfare. The first infraction may result in up to a 30-day license suspension, and the second may result in up to a 60-day suspension. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 13, 2020

TABC Working With Texas Counties To Safely Reopen Bars Oct. 14

AUSTIN – As bars across the state prepare to reopen this week, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has launched an updated webpage with important information for local governments, business owners and communities. TABC’s Coronavirus Information Page, tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus, now features an interactive map listing the Texas counties that have been approved to allow bars to reopen under Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32. The order allows bars to reopen at 50% capacity in Texas counties that both opt in to reopen bars and meet the state requirements related to local COVID-19 hospitalization rates and case counts. County judges in eligible counties must submit a form to TABC attesting their county’s status before bars may reopen. Forms and other information relevant to reopening are available for county judges on the TABC website. Bars in counties where county judges have met the requirements may resume operations at 50% capacity starting Oct. 14. Bars must follow all standards in Executive Order GA-32 and the Open Texas Strike Force checklists at open.texas.gov. So far, more than 80 Texas counties have met the requirements for bars to reopen. “This day has been long awaited by many industry members across Texas,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “TABC is committed to helping bar owners and local governments put safety first during the reopening process. I urge all parties to check Governor Abbott’s website and the TABC website for the latest information and best practices as we work together to ensure a safe and successful reopening.” As bars reopen across the state, TABC agents and local health and safety officials will be checking to ensure businesses are complying with state guidelines to reduce the COVID-19 infection risk. Since June, TABC agents have conducted more than 17,000 inspections, finding that nearly 99% of businesses were in full compliance with the law. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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