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TABC Ports of Entry officers keeping Texans safe by seizing illicit alcohol at border

Photo: TABC

A recent warning by the U.S. State Department regarding possible tainted or counterfeit alcohol purchased abroad is helping to raise awareness of a common issue witnessed by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officials working at the Texas-Mexico border.

Tax Compliance Officers (TCOs) from TABC’s Ports of Entry Division seized more than 1,000 containers of illicit or dangerous alcohol brought by travelers crossing into Texas from Mexico during the 2017 fiscal year. “Illicit alcohol” includes any alcohol products which are not properly labeled or are carried in improper containers. Such products may also contain dangerous or illegal additives, making them unsafe for human consumption.

TABC is charged with collecting the required taxes on any alcohol brought into the state via the Texas-Mexico border. According to TABC Ports of Entry Chief John Reney, officers frequently encounter individuals trying to bring in illicit alcohol.

“It’s not uncommon for our TCOs to identify alcohol in unmarked containers, such as a gasoline container or water bottle,” Reney said. “These products, if allowed to enter Texas, could prove dangerous to consumers. For that reason, we seize the products and destroy them before they can enter the marketplace.”

TABC serves as the first line of defense against such products, said A. Bentley Nettles, TABC Executive Director.

“One of TABC’s primary duties is upholding public safety,” Nettles said. “While most people think that only involves our law enforcement operations, a huge piece of that mission includes keeping dangerous products like these out of Texas. We have people at the border crossings trained to identify and seize any illicit alcohol products which could prove harmful to Texas consumers.”

For more information about TABC’s Ports of Entry mission, visit

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