Liquor sting turns into robbery

COACHELLA, Calif. - Two men allegedly ran off with an underage decoy's money during a liquor buying sting in Coachella, missing out on liquor-related misdemeanors, and instead they were charged with petty theft, a sergeant said Saturday.

Deputies began their five-hour operation at 4 p.m. Friday at three liquor or convenience store locations. The decoy hung out at the businesses and asked adult patrons to buy alcoholic beverages for him under the supervision of a deputy, Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Tim White said.

Pedro Gardea, 20, and Kevin Rivera, 21, both of Coachella, allegedly fled with the decoy's money. They were arrested for suspicion of petty theft.

A third suspect, Marcus Rodriguez, 29, also of Coachella, was arrested for suspicion of buying liquor for an minor.

Rivera was also arrested on a misdemeanor traffic warrant. All three suspects were cited and released, White said.

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