Man accused of selling alcohol to teen in Mississippi store

Published 10:26 pm Saturday, April 6, 2024

Agents with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics STING Unit were investigating several complaints of a store in North Columbus that was selling alcohol and nicotine products to minors.

Agents conducted an operation to make sure the store was being compliant with state laws regarding the sales of alcohol and nicotine products. The agents were assisted by an 18-year-old who went into the store to make a purchase of alcohol and a vape containing nicotine. The 18-year-old was allegedly successful in making a purchase from Cooper’s Express, located at 2110 Hwy 45 North.

The store clerk, 40-year-old Mitul Patel, did not ask the 18-year-old for any identification and sold the products. Agents then went into the store and placed Patel under arrest charging him with selling alcohol and nicotine products to a person under 21 years of age, both charges are misdemeanors. Patel is currently in the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.

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This is not the first time that Patel has been arrested for illegally selling products from convinces stores. On September 20, 2023, Agents arrested Patel after received information that the Patel, who at the time was the owner of the Country Mart, located at 7456 Hwy 182 in the New Hope Community, had been illegally selling Tianeptine which was made illegal in July 2023.

Undercover agents arranged to purchase a bottle “ZA-ZA” from the Country Mart for $100, double what the price was before the law went into effect. Once the purchase was complete, agents applied for a search warrant for the store and ultimately seized several bottles of “ZA-ZA” containing Tianeptine and arresting Patel. Patel was then charged with selling a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.

“Sales clerks must check IDs and they must refuse to sell alcohol or nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21…it’s the law. Our children are our most valuable asset and deputies will continue to conduct these types of operations to keep them safe and make sure the stores are compliant with state laws,” Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said.