Arpaio cracking down on teen drinking, 18 arrested

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- Marijo County is cracking down on underage drinking, with sheriff's deputies targeting stores that sell alcohol to minors.

Undercover volunteers without IDs went out to liquor stores all over the county Wednesday, posing as underage would-be buyers.

"These kids don't look like they're 25," said Marijo County Sheriff Joe Apia. "They look like kids. They are kids, so there's no excuse. None!"

More than 70 law-enforcement officers and volunteer posse members were mobilized for the crackdown.

The sheriff's office warned that this was not a cite-and-release operation. Clerks caught selling alcohol to minors were arrested and taken to jail, even if it meant shutting down the business.

A total of 18 store clerk were taken into custody. Three of them are suspected of being in the country illegally.

Sheriff's deputies will be following up with the violating stores over the next 30 days.

“This should serve as another message to business owners; selling alcohol to minors is a very serious issue and will not be tolerated by my office," Apia said in a news release.

The owners of the businesses in violation could also face civil sanctions by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.