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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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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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May 27, 2022

TABC reminds businesses to practice safety ahead of busy Memorial Day weekend

AUSTIN – As Texans gather to celebrate graduation and the Memorial Day holiday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is reminding alcohol retailers to help keep their employees and customers safe by responsibly selling and serving alcohol. TABC agents will be on duty across the state during the Memorial Day weekend to ensure businesses follow the state’s alcohol laws, including the prevention of alcohol sales or service to minors and intoxicated patrons. Agents will conduct inspections both openly and while undercover, according to Victor Kuykendoll, TABC deputy executive director of Enforcement. “While this is a time of celebration, it’s also an opportunity to remind our partners in the alcoholic beverage industry of the critical role they play in ensuring Texans stay safe,” Kuykendoll said. “Alcohol retailers are often the first to spot the signs of intoxication, or an underage patron attempting to purchase alcohol, and their employees are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing loss of life in our communities and on our highways.” Most Texas alcohol retailers require employees to obtain TABC seller-server certification, which includes training on how to spot signs of intoxication or underage customers. Even so, Kuykendoll said, it’s important for employers to empower their staff to take proactive steps to prevent illegal alcohol sales. “We strongly encourage retailers to decline any alcohol sale if there’s a doubt about a customer’s age or level of intoxication,” he said. “Doing so not only protects the public, it can help protect a business from legal and financial penalties stemming from a violation.” Businesses found in violation of state alcohol laws could face a fine or temporary suspension of their TABC license. Additionally, employees who improperly sell alcohol could face a misdemeanor charge leading to possible fines or jail time. 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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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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