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On December 21, San Diego Sheriff's Deputies arrested seven adults after they purchased alcohol for teenagers at liquor stores in La Mesa, Spring Valley, and Casa de Oro. The arrests were made as deputies conducted "Operation Shoulder Tap," a statewide enforcement program aimed at curbing the sale of alcohol to minors.

At those stores, from 6 to 11:30 p.m., teenage decoys waited in parking lots and approached adults as they headed into the store. After the purchases were made, deputies arrested the guilty parties for furnishing alcohol to minors, a misdemeanor charge.

The program is one of many law enforcement programs that use teenagers as decoys — a practice that started in 1994 after the California Supreme Court ruled that decoys could be used to find out if stores were selling to minors.

The goals, according to the Alcohol Beverage Control Department, are not just to decrease underage drinking but also to deter adults from buying booze for teenage boys and girls and to "expand the involvement of local law enforcement in enforcing underage drinking laws."

Funding for the program came this past July, when San Diego's Alcohol Beverage Control office awarded the Sheriff's Department a $100,000 grant. According to the Sheriff's Department, similar operations will continue through next year.

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