The Coast News Group

Officials comment on drug sting at local bar

ENCINITAS — Following a four-month sting operation, officials Monday posted a 45-day liquor license suspension outside of Bar Leucadian. 

Undercover officers purchased cocaine on four occasions at Bar Leucadian during the investigation; employees and bar patrons were involved in the sales, according to Melissa Beach, a district supervisor with the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) board.

Beach said the owner of the bar was not involved with the cocaine sales.

“However, when you have an ABC license, the ownership is responsible for the actions of their employees and for the occurrences on their premise during the hours that they’re open and operating,” Beach said.

Bar Leucadian will not be able sell alcohol for 45 days, and it will be on probation for three years. Going forward, Bar Leucadian cannot host public entertainment, including live music, will be required to close by midnight, instead of 2 a.m., and must maintain “a security presence.”

“Those stipulations will go on with the license after the suspension,” said Encinitas Sheriff’s Department Capt. Sherri Sarro.

Should a similar violation occur during the probationary period, further penalties could be imposed, according to Sarro. This is Bar Leucadian’s first liquor license suspension.

Sarro said the stipulations and liquor license suspension are “a positive for the community.”

Complaints from the public, at least one of which came from an anonymous tip line for Encinitas drug and gang activity, prompted the investigation. According to Sarro, public drunkenness, noise, intoxicated driving and public urination have been reoccurring problems in Encinitas and at Bar Leucadian.

The primary suspect of the investigation, a bar patron, received a three-year prison term for selling cocaine. Additional charges were filed against those “who were in possession and had knowledge of the sales.” But Sarro declined to state how many people charges were filed against, and whether they were bar employees or patrons.

At least one person who was charged cooperated with officials.

“There was some cooperation in association with selling of the drugs that led to the establishment here receiving a suspension,” Sarro said.

The joint investigation between the Encinitas Sheriff’s Department and ABC was funded by an ABC grant assistance program.