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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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Feb 12, 2024

TABC agent responds to active shooter situation at Lakewood Church

AUSTIN — An off-duty agent of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission was among multiple commissioned peace officers who responded to a shooting at Houston’s Lakewood Church around 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11. TABC Agent Adrian Herrera was working off duty as a security officer at the church when a person opened fire with a long rifle in the lobby of the building. Herrera and another officer responded by engaging the shooter and neutralizing the threat. Officials from TABC’s Law Enforcement Department and the agency’s Office of Inspector General are working with local and state investigators to determine what led to the shooting. Per agency policy, Herrera has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal TABC investigation into the shooting. He has been employed by TABC for approximately five years. “While we are still gathering the facts on what took place at Lakewood Church, I can say that I’m extremely proud of the quick response of our agent as well as the other law enforcement agents on the scene,” TABC Chairman Kevin Lilly said. “These officers likely prevented a much greater tragedy through their brave actions.” “TABC agents are trained to respond to situations such as this as part of their duties,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “As Texas peace officers, each of our agents are committed to protecting lives and keeping the people of Texas safe.” The shooting remains under investigation by TABC, the Houston Police Department, and the Texas Rangers. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Jan 17, 2024

Free webinar to help fight human trafficking offered by TABC and Texas Restaurant Association

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Texas Restaurant Association are conducting a free webinar on Jan. 18 to educate people working in the alcoholic beverage industry on the warning signs of human trafficking and how to report it. The joint webinar is part of both groups’ efforts to commemorate Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The annual observance, announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 3, is intended to raise awareness of human trafficking while empowering Texans to report suspected crime. TABC has a statutory directive to prevent criminal activity at TABC-licensed locations, and human trafficking is among the many crimes the agency works to stop. The webinar will help business owners and their employees identify the signs of human trafficking and report concerning activity to law enforcement, according to TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham. “Our best tool to fight human trafficking is the eyes and ears of all Texans,” Graham said. “TABC is proud to work with our partners in the Texas Restaurant Association and the alcoholic beverage industry to help make a safer Texas for all.” TABC and the TRA have a long history of partnering to promote public safety through webinars, in-person training and other initiatives. “Human trafficking is a preventable crime that occurs throughout Texas,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., TRA president and CEO. “We’re proud to work hand-in-hand with TABC to empower our industry so we can lead in the effort to stop this human trafficking in Texas.” The free online webinar begins at 2 p.m. CST Thursday, Jan. 18. Participants can register at https://bit.ly/3SaiaQX. Industry members can also request a recording of the webinar by emailing Erica Valdriz at evaldriz@txrestaurant.org. For information on the Texas Restaurant Association, visit txrestaurant.org. For more information on TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. MEDIA CONTACT for TABC: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 – media@tabc.texas.gov       MEDIA CONTACT for Texas Restaurant Association: ECPR Texas Nico Ramsey, (512) 516-0302 Camryn Lees, (262) 490-9380     TRA@ecprtexas.com  

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Dec 13, 2023

TABC launches new Opioid-Related Drug Overdose training course

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has launched a new training course intended to help certain alcohol retailers recognize the signs of an opioid overdose and give them the skills to intervene with lifesaving measures. The course was developed by the agency after a new law took effect on Sept. 1, 2023. Senate Bill 998, authored by state Sen. Royce West and adopted by the 88th Texas Legislature, requires certain Mixed Beverage and Private Club permit holders, and certain members of their staff, to complete an opioid overdose training course provided by TABC each year. The law was crafted in response to the ongoing opioid crisis in America. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 150 Americans die each day from opioid-related overdoses, including illegally produced opioids such as heroin and fentanyl. “Texas continues to lead the fight against the fentanyl crisis that is plaguing our state and our nation,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. “With this new Opioid-Related Drug Overdose training course, we will help ensure alcohol retailers and their staff know how to keep their customers safe from fentanyl and other opioid poisonings. I thank the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for their ongoing efforts in our comprehensive statewide ‘One Pill Kills’ campaign. Their hard work, and the new laws I signed this year, will help save the lives of Texans each and every day.” Abbott signed SB 998 into law in June. West, whose Senate district includes portions of Dallas County, said his bill is aimed at reducing overdose deaths across Texas. “Not a week passes without hearing of another opioid-related death. The course developed by TABC following the passage of SB 998 will instruct those who work in venues where alcohol is sold on how to identify a person in the stages of an opioid overdose and train them to administer an opioid antagonist,” West said. “SB 998 creates a safety net in this fight against the fentanyl and opioid-related deaths that continue to devastate our communities. SB 998 and the resultant training will help save lives.” TABC’s Opioid-Related Drug Overdose course provides bar owners, managers, and their staff with an overview of opioid overdoses, including the symptoms and warning signs, as well as steps to take if they identify a person suffering from an possible overdose. The lifesaving steps include the administration of a medication called naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and save a life. “Studies show that 1 in 4 Texans have experienced an overdose or know someone who has,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “This training will support alcohol retailers with the knowledge and skills they need to both protect their customers from the harmful and sometimes lethal effects these drugs can have.” TABC’s Opioid-Related Drug Overdose course is now available for free on the new TABC Education webpage: tabc.texas.gov/texas-alcohol-laws-regulations/tabc-education/. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 6, 2023

TABC agents act quickly to save victim of possible opioid overdose

AUSTIN — Quick action by two agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission revived a woman who was found unresponsive during an inspection of a Dallas-area bar Sept. 30. TABC agents Wesley McDonald and Tim Shepherd were conducting a regular inspection of a dance club on the 10000 block of Finnell Street when they observed a woman in a wheelchair slumped over and unresponsive. The unresponsive person was surrounded by several other patrons who were attempting to revive her. The two agents examined the woman and found that she was limp and unresponsive to verbal stimulation. They also could not locate a pulse on the woman. The agents instructed an employee to contact 911 and began questioning the woman’s acquaintances on whether she had taken any drugs or medication. During this conversation, the woman’s eyes rolled back and the skin around her mouth began to turn blue. The agents quickly determined that it was necessary to use Narcan, the device that delivers the anti-opioid overdose medication naloxone. Agent McDonald retrieved his Narcan, while Agent Shepherd held the woman’s head upright to maintain her airway. A few seconds after the medication was administered, the woman regained consciousness. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for further treatment. “I truly believe Agent McDonald’s and Agent Shepherd’s quick actions saved a life that night,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “Our agents are, first and foremost, dedicated to keeping Texans safe and saving lives. I’m incredibly proud of these agents’ actions, and I’m grateful for all our agents and industry partners who are working to keep their fellow Texans safe.” All TABC agents conducting inspections carry Narcan as part of their regular duty equipment. The agency is also working to develop training for alcohol retailers on the warning signs of a possible opioid overdose and what to do if a suspected overdose takes place at the business. The agents’ lifesaving actions come as Texas observes its first Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month this October. The annual observance, which was adopted by the Texas Legislature earlier this year, seeks to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids such as fentanyl. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Sept 29, 2023

TABC appoints Ronald Swenson as executive chief of agency law enforcement operations

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has appointed agency veteran Ronald Swenson to the post of executive chief of enforcement, where he will oversee the agency’s 200-plus commissioned peace officers working across the state in support of public safety.  Swenson, who previously served as head of the agency’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), succeeds former Executive Chief Victor Kuykendoll following his retirement in August. “Chief Swenson has been a huge part of TABC’s success in law enforcement over the past 18 years, and I know he’ll be a great fit to lead law enforcement efforts,” said Thomas Graham, TABC Executive Director. “He is a proven leader, an outstanding peace officer, and a true Texan. I have the utmost confidence in Ron and in the entire TABC law enforcement staff. This is an exciting time for our agency.”  Swenson got his start at TABC in 2005, starting as an enforcement agent at the agency’s Odessa office. He was later promoted to oversee the SIU and the unit’s investigations into human trafficking, narcotics trafficking and other organized criminal activity. Following that, he was appointed as deputy chief of law enforcement for the agency’s Investigations Bureau, which includes SIU as well as the agency’s criminal intelligence, financial crimes, victim services, and Target Responsibility for Alcohol-Connected Emergencies (TRACE) units. Before joining TABC, Swenson served with the Horizon City Police Department for 11 years. Swenson is a graduate of the FBI National Academy - 212th session, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Covert Operations School and the Governor’s Executive Development Program. He holds a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) Master Peace Officer Certificate as well as a TCOLE instructor certification. He also serves on a number of task force boards, including the Austin-area FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Texas Violent Gang Task Force and Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council.  Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Sept 21, 2023

TABC announces 93% retailer compliance rate during back-to-school operations

AUSTIN — A statewide series of inspections by agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission found that 93% of retailers successfully prevented the sale of alcohol to minors during the busy back-to-school season.  The inspections, called “underage compliance operations” (UCOs) by TABC, are part of the agency’s regular efforts to ensure retailers are aware of Texas’ laws against selling alcohol to customers younger than 21. While TABC enforcement agents conduct UCOs on a weekly basis, the back-to-school operations represent a statewide effort to inspect alcohol retailers located near major colleges or universities.  In total, TABC agents visited 1,144 alcohol retailers throughout August and September, finding just 81 violations, or a 93% compliance rate.  “This data tells us that the vast majority of Texas alcohol retailers take their customers’ safety seriously and are already working to hold their employees accountable,” said Thomas Graham, TABC Executive Director. “These retailers understand that they are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing alcohol-related injury or death, and all of us at TABC are grateful for their continued dedication to maintaining safe communities.”  Businesses found selling alcohol to a minor could face a fine or a possible suspension of their license to sell alcohol. Employees who sell alcohol to a minor could face a class A misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and one year in jail.  For more information on TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov.  Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Sept 13, 2023

TABC agents seize illegal distillation equipment during Johnson County operation

AUSTIN — An anonymous tip led agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to uncover and seize illegal distilling equipment during a successful operation Sept. 1. Agents from TABC’s Arlington Regional Office led the operation to seize the still, which was discovered at a residence in Johnson County. The still was maintained in operable condition, meaning it could be used to manufacture illicit alcohol in violation of state law. During an interview with TABC agents, a person living at the residence admitted to owning the equipment. Section 103.02 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code prohibits any person from possessing equipment “designed for, capable of use for, or used in manufacturing an illicit beverage,” including the possession of distillation equipment without a TABC Distiller’s and Rectifier’s Permit. The Code allows peace officers to seize any illicit alcoholic beverages along with any equipment used in their manufacture. “This operation exemplifies TABC’s commitment to properly enforcing the law and ensuring the safety and integrity of the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “Not only does illicit alcohol risk the health and safety of anyone who consumes it, but it also undermines the efforts of law-abiding alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers who continue the do the right thing when operating their businesses.” Possession of illicit distillation equipment is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $100–$1,000. The case remains under investigation. For more information on TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Aug 16, 2023

TABC arrests Austin convenience store clerk for online solicitation of minor, illegal alcohol sales

AUSTIN — A joint operation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Department of Public Safety has resulted in the arrest of an Austin convenience store clerk on charges of online solicitation of a minor, sale of alcohol to a minor, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.  Pedro Enrique Flores-Vasquez, 48, was taken into custody Aug. 11 and booked into the Travis County Jail. Flores-Vasquez, an employee of Hyde Park Market, 4429 Duval St. in Austin, remains in custody in lieu of a combined $34,000 bond.  Online solicitation of a minor is a third-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of between two to 10 years, along with a fine of up to $10,000. Selling alcohol to a minor and furnishing alcohol to a minor are both class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.  The criminal case against Flores-Vasquez is pending.   For more information on TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov.  Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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June 22, 2023

TABC arrests one for labor trafficking following joint operation

AUSTIN — A Cuban citizen stands accused of labor trafficking following his arrest by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission May 24. Luis Diaz Sala was arrested at his home in Irving as part of a joint operation by TABC, the Dallas Police Department and officers of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security’s Gangs and Violent Crimes Task Force. The joint operation identified Diaz Sala as a suspected labor trafficker in February 2022, when it learned that an organized criminal element was smuggling people from Cuba to the United States and forcing them to work at a TABC-licensed business to pay off the smuggling debt. During that investigation, agents observed Diaz Sala at the business on multiple occasions and confirmed his suspected ties with the business’ management. TABC agents obtained an arrest warrant for Diaz Sala in May 2023, and made the arrest a short time later, charging him with violations of Texas’ labor trafficking laws. “This case is a huge win for TABC’s Special Investigations Unit and our task force partners,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “Stopping labor trafficking and human trafficking is a top priority for this agency, and we will continue to work tirelessly to identify these suspected traffickers and bring them to justice.” Diaz Sala remains in custody at the Dallas County Jail. The name of the involved business will be disclosed once a related TABC investigation is complete. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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May 22, 2023

TABC prepares to ensure public safety over Memorial Day weekend

AUSTIN — As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is ramping up its efforts to promote public safety and encourage responsible alcohol sales and service. TABC law enforcement officers will conduct operations across Texas throughout Memorial Day weekend, which coincides with graduation ceremonies and end-of-year celebrations at schools throughout the state. Those operations will include open and undercover inspections to deter violence and the overservice of alcoholic beverages and will also include underage compliance operations (UCOs) to identify businesses selling alcohol to persons under 21. Additionally, agents from TABC’s Targeted Responsibility for Alcohol-Connected Emergencies (TRACE) Unit will be available to respond to alcohol-related emergencies such as DWI crashes, assaults, and more. Businesses caught violating the state’s alcohol laws could face a fine or temporary suspension of their license to sell alcohol. During the month of May 2022, TABC agents conducted more than 2,800 inspections, finding a total of 112 violations resulting in 76 administrative cases. “Texans across the state will be kicking off their summer during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and it’s our goal to ensure they can celebrate safely,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “While we hope businesses will voluntarily comply with state law, as most usually do, we want all Texans to know that TABC will have resources in place to deter unsafe practices, respond to emergencies, and hold violators accountable. We expect a safe and successful holiday for the vast majority of the businesses we serve.” Anyone wishing to report a possible violation at TABC-licensed businesses may do so by visiting tabc.texas.gov/aims-login and clicking on the File a Complaint button. Complaints can also be submitted to TABC by email at complaints@tabc.texas.gov or by calling 1-888-THE-TABC. Media Contact: Chris Porter TABC Director of Communications (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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