On November 26th, 2012

ABC Agents Assist With Food Stamp Fraud Case

What do our CSLEA members who are Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Agents have to do with food stamps? 

"Our ABC agents work closely with federal investigators all the time," said Shelley Bishop, president of the California Association of State Investigators (CASI), an affiliate of CSLEA.  "We go into locations attempting to find out if alcohol can be purchased with food stamps or if unscrupulous businesses owners will purchase  the food stamps for money."

Bishop points out a recent bust involving  an alcoholic beverage control licensee, Haki Dervish , a store owner in the city of Indio.  Federal agents arrested Dervishi, 57,  on a federal indictment.  According to the indictment, Dervishi  gave food stamp recipients  money for their food stamps at a discounted value, keeping the additional benefits for himself.   According to reports, the store had food stamp redemptions averaging more than $300,000 a month this year, compared to a monthly average of about $2,100 in 2008.

"Our agents searched and helped compile evidence in this case," said Bishop.  "Just another hat we wear."

If you haven't  gotten to know what ABC agents are all about these days, you may be in for a surprise.  Yes, they still conduct  the very important shoulder-tapping stings to combat underage drinking but the scope of their jobs has moved into the dangerous world of street gangs, drugs, cartels and weapons.

In September, ABC agents were vital in an undercover drug buy in the city of Corona.  They teamed up with a state task force and climbed into the trenches of some of the most dangerous law enforcement work in the state.   The result was huge.  They seized $1.1 million worth of methamphetamine believed to have been imported from a drug cartel in Mexico and arrested four men. 

Kudos also go to our ABC agents who handcuffed an armed and dangerous fugitive on the run for 10 years.  During a warrant sweep in San Bernardino County in June, they arrested Tri Nguyen, 42, a fugitive considered armed and dangerous and wanted by the federal government.  Agents said when they encountered Nguyen he was trying to get his hands on a loaded 357 Magnum revolver hidden behind the headboard of his bed.

"ABC agents perform some of the most vital law enforcement work in the state," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  "Their operations, their sweeps, their investigations put them on the frontlines.  California is a safer place because of them"

None of this means ABC agents have given up on the very important mission of alcoholic beverage control.  They closely watch and actively pursue those who violated California's liquor laws and that in itself saves lives. 

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