TABC cancels liquor permit for Hidalgo Co. bar following human trafficking investigation
El Rio Bar also faces charges for narcotics, drink solicitation
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.
TABC Public Information Officer