Prom booze trips to Son. are being discouraged
NOGALES, Son. - Americans whose children go to Mexican bars will get
calls from police this prom season if the youths do more than dance.
Underage drinking in Mexico is nothing new, but authorities from both sides of the border yesterday vowed to cooperate to enforce laws and hold drunken minors until a parent comes to claim them.
"All parents ... need to assist us," said Nogales, Ariz., City Councilman Ignacio J. Barraza. "We will remain vigilant and (create) a zone of no tolerance."
Highlights of the operation include U.S. authorities at the border checking identification of southbound people who appear to be minors and Sonora police looking for underage drinkers, said Nogales, Ariz., Mayor Albert M. Kramer. He spoke at a news conference at the DeConcini Port of Entry.
Increased vigilance will start this weekend and be in place for an undisclosed period during the busy prom season, when many Arizona kids take dates into Mexico, where the drinking age is 18, officials said.
"Don't waste your time trying to get across to bars," said John Kissinger, chief of police in Nogales, Ariz.
Ramses Fierro, chief of the Nogales, Son., department of public safety, said minors found intoxicated south of the border will be detained until a parent comes to claim them.
No fine will be imposed if a parent shows up, he said.
"But if there is another infraction such as fighting or property damage, then there will be consequences," Fierro said.
On the U.S. side, minors under the influence of alcohol face a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $290 and time in Santa Cruz County juvenile detention center, said Luis Parra, city attorney on the Arizona side.
This is the first prom season that law enforcement agencies from both cities have worked together to address the problem, Parra said.
Authorities in Arizona have kept a watchful eye out for teens returning drunk from Mexico but have not coordinated with Mexican authorities.
In anticipation of this weekend's Nogales High School prom, officials will conduct presentations to teens about the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving, Kissinger said.
Neither U.S. nor Mexican law enforcement agencies had statistics on underage drinking arrests.