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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Feb 7, 2024

OPERATION POP TOP: Two sales clerks arrested for illegal alcohol sales

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

The Polk County Sheriff's Office has arrested two sales clerks over the past week after they sold alcoholic beverages to underage persons. 

The illegal alcohol sales occurred during PCSO's ongoing Operation Pop Top campaign in which deputies visit various stores to see if the clerk would sell to an alcoholic beverage to someone under 21 years of age (Florida's minimum age for legal alcohol consumption). 

The person attempting to purchase alcohol was an 18-year old member of the PCSO's Cadet program.

In addition to checking for alcohol sales compliance, stores were also checked to ensure they were not selling Kratom to the Cadet (21 is the minimum age for Kratom sales in Florida).

Over the past week, a total of 17 stores were checked for alcohol sales and four vape shops were checked for Kratom sales.

"State law for both Kratom and alcoholic beverages restrict sales to people under 21 years of age. You see the law posted all over the place--including at all the stores we visit, but guess what---sales clerks are still not getting the message. That's why we do these checks frequently." - Grady Judd, Sheriff 

All four vape shops were in compliance, but clerks in two convenience stores sold alcohol to the Cadet.

The two sales clerks who were arrested were 27-year old Emanuel Gonzalez (Circle K, 1026 Walt Williams Rd in Lakeland) and 23-year old Octavio Bowe (Racetrac, 38425 US 27, Davenport). Both men were charged with selling alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 years (Misdemeanor).