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Texas liquor agents crackdown on El Paso bar-restaurants: 2 licenses suspended, 8 warnings issued

EL PASO, Texas -- For the past week, a group of Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents have been busy helping law enforcement agencies in El Paso after they were sent here by Gov. Greg Abbott.

According to TABC spokesman Chris Porter, El Paso is the only community in Texas whose coronavirus situation has necessitated such an influx of help.

In the days leading up to Halloween, those agents carried out operations across the city, working closely with local police and fire department teams.

“We have that expertise and we have that ability to go into these businesses and over the years we have also developed a good working relationship with a number of these businesses that understand what the requirements are," Porter said.

Those TABC agents were pulled out of El Paso on Monday after carrying out over 400 checks on various businesses and responding to community complaints about stores that were reportedly breaking coronavirus safety protocols.

“Anytime we received a complaint about a potential business from local law enforcement or code enforcement in El Paso that allows our agents to start our own investigation to find out if a violation did take place," Porter said.

From those checks, eight businesses were given written warnings and two were hit with 30-day suspensions of their business licenses.

Ron Patterson, owner of Tortuga Sports Lounge, got hit with a 30-day suspension, he said.

He called his citation and ensuing suspension "unfair" and "ticky-tacky."

And while the city itself is still processing their weekend citation numbers, Commander Ryan Urrutia from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said that his deputies responded to over 50 calls for coronavirus-related incidents in far east El Paso County and other unincorporated areas.

“We did issue eight citations for violations of the mandate and these were several parties that were taking place," said Commander Urrutia.

Urrutia added that his men currently do not have the resources that they would need to keep up with all of the coronavirus rule infractions that have been taking place within the city.

A full and detailed listing of which businesses have been cited by the TABC can be found here and is updated every day through their public inquiry database.

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Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is a former ABC-7 reporter who co-anchored Good Morning El Paso weekends.


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