Alcohol buyers targets in 'operation shoulder tap"

FRESNO, Calif.

This sting is part of "Operation Shoulder Tap." Law enforcement agencies use an underage operative to come up to an unsuspecting shopper, perhaps, tap them on the shoulder outside a store, and ask them to buy alcohol.

Christine Weldon, the District Administrator for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, says buyers can get into big trouble. "The individual who does the purchasing and furnishes it to a minor is going to be arrested, or cited."

This incident took place at a convenience store just across the street from the Fresno State Campus. We asked students on campus what they think of this law enforcement approach.

One 21 year old told us: "I think it's entrapment, if a person was going to buy alcohol for someone underage like a friend, that's one thing, but if the cops send an undercover person to go ask someone to do that, if they wouldn't normally have bought it for them I think that's entrapment, I don't think they should be doing that."

But some thought it was a good idea to keep alcohol away from those who are underage. "It's 21 for a reason you're a little bit more mature and you understand the consequences that can happen."

Most we spoke with said getting alcohol was easy enough without approaching strangers. A 20 year old woman told us: "Probably through friends. Most likely, or older siblings, someone that they know who is older."

Another 18 year old said the easiest way to get alcohol is, "Through friends, through family, it's not too hard to get it."

Another student added: "Fake ID's is the biggest way."

But strangers do play a role. At another convenience store down the street two young ladies were cited after agreeing to buy beer.

Everybody caught in this operation was given a citation and released. They will have to pay a fine of up to a thousand dollars.

The goal of Operation Shoulder Tap is to discourage underage drinking. State figures show about 80 teenagers die in drunk driving accidents every year, nearly two thousand are injured.

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