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The Polk County Sheriff's Office conducted an "Operation Pop-Top" on Monday, March 28, 2022, at seven different convenience stores in the Bartow, Mulberry, and South Lakeland areas. The ongoing operation is designed to ensure that stores within the county are compliant with state laws by not selling alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age.
Deputies are assisted in the operation by a PCSO Explorer who makes the attempt to purchase alcohol. The Explorer program is for high school students who are interested in a career in law enforcement. In this particular operation, the Explorer was 19-years-old.
Out of the seven stores visited by Deputies and the Explorer on Monday, six of the stores were compliant.
26-year old Victoria Kay Ross of Bartow, who is employed by the 7-Eleven store at 1335 North Broadway Ave. in Bartow, was charged with the misdemeanor crime after she allowed a 19-year old to purchase an alcoholic beverage.
The six stores which refused to sell the alcoholic beverage to the Explorer were:
• 7-Eleven (1020 N. Broadway Ave.) in Bartow
• RaceTrac (1690 N. Broadway Ave.) in Bartow
• S&M Citgo (795 W Main St.) in Bartow
• Murphy Express (6801 N. Church Ave.) in Mulberry
• Marathon (6808 S. Florida Ave.) in Lakeland
• RMS Marathon (1201 S. Florida Ave. in Lakeland
“The stores and employees who were found to be in compliance with the law are to be congratulated. Each store and the employees must ensure that they do not sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 years of age. We do these operations often, and we will hold stores and employees accountable.” - Grady Judd, Sheriff.