LEONARDTOWN, Md. - The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office today reported the results of an undercover sting operation they conducted last Friday, March 10, to determine if local merchants would sell cigarettes to minors. Seven of the fifteen establishments targeted during the operation sold a tobacco product to a minor. Of the seven offenders, six were chain stores owned by large regional or national corporations as opposed to a locally-owned business.
Senior Deputy First Class Emory Johnson and Senior Deputy First Class Dung Ross of the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, with the assistance of a seventeen year old confidential informant, conducted an under-age controlled buy for tobacco in the California and Lexington Park area of the county. The informant was instructed to enter establishments and attempt to purchase a tobacco product.
According to police, the establishments that made the illegal sale to the minor were: Hal's
Deli, California CVS Pharmacy, Shopper's Food Warehouse, California Sheetz, California Food Lion, California Wa Wa, and the Food Lion Store in St. Mary's Square. The establishments that refused to sell to an under age person were: JC Wine and Spirits, ABC Liquors, California Wal-Mart, Giant Food Store in California, Jughead Liquors, Lexington Park Wa Wa, 2000 Liquors, and County Liquors.
According to Sergeant Ted Belleavoine, Special Operations Division, St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, in the cases of the illegal sales to the minor, civil citations were issued to the employee who made the sale. No charges are brought against the employer. The citations will be heard in the local District Court. Belleavoine noted that if an establishment has a sufficient number of citations issued against their employees, the ATF will step in and take appropriate actions which could include revocation of the store's license to sell tobacco products.