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Closer Look: UHP Targets Illegal Alcohol, Fireworks Near Wyoming Border

Closer Look: UHP Targets Illegal Alcohol, Fireworks Near Wyoming Border

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Marc Giauque ReportingThrough the summer, troopers from the Highway Patrol's alcohol enforcement division are spending time near the Utah-Wyoming border. They're looking for people bringing illegal alcohol and fireworks into the state and their timing is not accidental.

"The weekend starts for the summer and stays busy."

In fact, Sgt. Travis Trotta and his counterparts will be busy as well. Choosing one day a month, through the summer, to saturate the stretch of I-80, just west of Evanston, Wyoming.

"They're going out of state in the first place. That's their first key that they know it is illegal to do. The fireworks with all the different holidays coming up and then it seems to be a time where people use alcohol in their priorities."

But not just people. Trotta says studies show 70 percent of the alcohol underage drinkers get, comes from someone who's bought it for them.

"Our main priority is to keep those underage kids from getting alcohol." So they take to the roadway.

The first subject, a man and his young son, no alcohol, but three big boxes full of fireworks. "Poor guy, he just spent $100." No citation here, just a warning.

Another trooper makes another find, a few cases of beer in a car. "That was his whole trick in coming up, was to get this beer."

Then a stop on a car with no front plate, the goods in the back-seat, the trooper asks the driver to remove them.

"Let me go back and run your license." Several cases, and what's called a party-ball are pulled from the back-seat.

A search yields no alcohol, just a cache of fireworks. The evidence is tagged and bagged. Eventually Trotta says, it is destroyed.

"We get a disposal order from them. And then it's destroyed by either taking it to the burn factory where most of the fireworks go and then the alcohol is just destroyed."

The troopers were four for five within about an hour of stops, one even yielding an arrest on a felony warrant.

But investigators say it's just the tip of the iceberg. "We are probably catching maybe five percent of what's coming out of there."

There are those who get away. Troopers say they followed a truck they just knew had illegal alcohol inside, but weren't able to find a reason to pull it over.

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