Statewide effort to fight teen drinking is in full swing locally - WFLA News Channel 8

Statewide effort to fight teen drinking is in full swing locally

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A statewide effort by the Florida Sheriff's Task Force to combat underage drinking during spring break is in full swing locally. The initiative is called Operation Dry Spring.

In Polk County deputies use an undercover teenager to try and buy alcohol at local businesses.

"What we do is we go in and we use one of our Explorers to make alcohol purchases at convenience stores and other stores," explained Polk Sheriff's Sergeant Vernon Noad.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office routinely conducts similar "Pop Top" operations, but Operation Dry Spring is designed to ramp up as spring break approaches.

"We get a lot of complaints in to the department about kids having parties at night with alcohol, kids coming to school with alcohol that type of thing. We're just trying to combat that," Noad said.

Indu Patel works at a convenience store in Polk County and wouldn't sell alcohol to the 16-year-old boy who tried to buy it as part of Operation Dry Spring.

"When I see the ID it said '97, so he's under age," she said.

At a Chevron gas station in Winter Haven Aardi Patel didn't make the same decision according to deputies.

They say the 44-year-old sold an alcoholic Four Loko beverage to the undercover 16-year-old. Deputies took her away in handcuffs.

Investigators aren't prepared to give a running total yet of all the arrests they've made to date as part of Operation Dry Spring.  A final, statewide total will be released April 11th. 

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