On Monday, March 29, 2010, Polk County Sheriff’s School Resource deputies, along with the assistance of PCSO Explorers (Explorers are high school student volunteers), conducted two separate “Operation Pop Top” initiatives in an effort to combat the illegal sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors. The initiatives were conducted in the Lake Wales, Winter Haven, south Lakeland, and Bartow areas.
During the operations, attempts were made by the Explorers to purchase alcohol and/or cigarettes.
The following businesses were checked and found to be in compliance with Florida State Statutes:
- Citgo, located at 1405 US Hwy 17 in Bartow
- Citgo, located at 3344 Winter Lake Road in Lakeland
- Sunoco, located at 6655 Old Polk City Road in Lakeland
- Hess, located at 111 Marcum Road in Lakeland
- BP, located at 795 Cypress Gardens Blvd in Winter Haven
- Citgo, located at 4850 Cypress Gardens Blvd in Winter Haven
- XYZ, located at 2793 Recker Hwy in Winter Haven
- Pix Store, located at 1108 Spirit Lake Road in Winter Haven
- Publix, located at 1090 Spirit Lake Road in Winter Haven
- Racetrac, located at 11023 US Hwy 17 in Winter Haven
- Cumberland Farms, located at 4660 US Hwy 17 in Bartow
- Liquor Store, located at Avenue Q and 40th Street in Winter Haven
- Circle K, located at 7695 SR 60 in Alturas
- Circle K, located at 6000 SR 60 in Bartow
The following businesses sold alcohol or cigarettes to minors, and the following store clerks were criminally charged with misdemeanor Sale of Alcoholic Beverage (or Sale of Tobacco Product) To An Underage Person, and given notices to appear:
- First Choice, located at 19300 US Hwy 27 in Lake Wales; store clerk, DOB 1/16/93 (17 years old), charged with Sale of Alcoholic Beverage To An Underage Person
- Stop and Save, located at 585 Clower Street in Bartow; Baby Joseph Pulinilkumkalayil, DOB 5/27/62, charged with Sale of Alcoholic Beverage To An Underage Person
- Citgo, located at 6005 US Hwy 17 South in Homeland; Maricruz Piedra, DOB 8/18/90, charged with Sale of Tobacco Product to An Underage Person
- Sunoco, located at 1410 US Hwy 17 South in Bartow; Jayshreeb Patel, DOB 10/15/64, charged with Sale of Tobacco Product to An Underage Person
- Circle K, located at 7250 US Hwy 98 North in Lakeland; Marilyn "June" Uber, DOB 6/4/40, charged with Sale of Tobacco Product to An Underage Person
"I commend the businesses and conscientious store clerks who were in compliance with this latest Operation Pop Top," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "We conduct operations such as these to send a message to the community that we will not tolerate the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to minors."