Agents make underage drinking bust

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – For 30 minutes Friday night, Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control Chief Butch Chennault’s team couldn’t catch someone under 21 with a beer or drive-through daiquiri — then all heck broke loose.

&uot;The driver purchased, but they were all in possession, and they’ve got an ice chest in the back,&uot;&160;one of his officers called over the radio.

&uot;This kid is 16 years old, and his mother’s 25-year-old boyfriend was buying it for him,&uot;&160;said another.

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In all, 21 ATC officers staked out four drive-through liquor stores in Concordia Parish: McDonough’s Package Store, Hammers Drive Thru and 84 Kwik Thru in Vidalia and Terrell’s Drive Thru in Ferriday. Three of the stores were cooperating fully with the investigation, Chennault said. Agents were looking for underage drinkers or adults who were buying alcohol for minors. It is not that stores don’t ask for identification — they do, said Chennault.

&uot;But some get their buddy who’s 21 to buy it for them, and some have fake ID’s,&uot;&160;he said.

As in most cases, the ATC decided to target Concordia Parish because they had received a number of complaints about underage drinking. But this time, complaints came from parents across the state line, in Natchez, Chennault said. From 8 to 9:15 p.m., agents had already given out 15 citations including eight for possession of alcohol by someone under 21, six for purchasing and one for contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

At one point, the blue lights of the ATC’s unmarked cars — and the vehicles of Vidalia police, who were assisting — could be seen up and down Carter Street.

One young man sulked silently, arms folded, as an officer wrote him a citation. In another case, four young people, only one was 21-year-old, tried to explain their situation to the officers. All the while, another officer pulled three daiquiris and several cans of beer out of their vehicle, displaying them on top of the car. Louisiana residents were given tickets; Mississippi residents were arrested and had to pay bond to be released. Minors were released to their parents.

&uot;I told (my officers), ‘This is the hot spot’,&uot; Chennault said. &uot;We could be here ’til 1 in the morning. We’re just getting started.&uot;