Special Operations Unit

    ABC's Special Operations Unit (SOU) is made up of a team of 10 Northern and 12 Southern S.O.U. investigators assigned to assist Department field offices and their investigators in conducting undercover work involving disorderly premises, illegal narcotics, stolen property, and other investigations that involve vice and criminal activities.

    In addition, the SOU works with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the state. They also conduct high profile operations for large events or festivals where alcohol-related disturbances tend to occur.

    The SOU was established in 1993 to more effectively and efficiently respond to the increasing number of problem premises.

    Since its existence, the SOU has focused on the following enforcement problems and activities:

    • Disorderly Premises Investigations: Conducted the required lengthy and sometimes complex investigations of ongoing disorderly activity at licensed businesses. These include both on-sale and off-sale locations throughout the state.
    • Underage Drinking: The incidence of illegal alcohol use among California youth is a major problem. Underage drinking poses serious consequences for the health and welfare of all Californians by contributing disproportionately to alcohol involved traffic fatalities and other alcohol-related crime problems.

    The SOU works with local police agencies, school officials and community organizations to identify retail premises that are known in the community as sources of underage sales, and targets those outlets for swift enforcement measures.

    The SOU also works with cities having a high percentage of traffic fatalities and crashes involving underage persons to implement focused enforcement and prevention programs as a means of reducing the level of alcohol-related injuries in those jurisdictions.

    • Major Violator Investigations: The SOU conducts investigations of outlets identified as major violator licensees and makes available quick response enforcement teams to respond to any unusual or immediate requests for aid from local law enforcement agencies.
    • Interagency Law Enforcement Task Force: The SOU participates in multi-agency task force enforcement efforts involving disorderly premises, drug trafficking and organized crime activities involving licensed premises. SOU has been a very active participant in the State's Underground Economy Task Force.
    • Special Events: The SOU provides law enforcement support at major special public events. The Long Beach Grand Prix, the Palm Springs Spring Break, the San Diego Easter Break weekend, Lake Tahoe New Year's Eve celebrations and regional fairs have all required SOU teams to assist District and local law enforcement.

    Local law enforcement agencies who feel they need special help with problem premises should first contact the nearest ABC District Office.