A northwest Iowa woman is charged with supplying alcohol to minors after authorities learned about an underage party at her home from a post on Facebook – the popular social networking website.
Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena says a recent anonymous email to his office included photos and information posted on Facebook from a recent underage party in Alton.
"We were in the process of trying to work up an actual case on that (party) alone and we were also doing a little bit of surveillance of the residence (when) another party started up," Altena said. "With some further investigation, we were able to get a search warrant, file some charges and make an arrest."
Early last Saturday morning, deputies charged 45-year-old Tammy Vander Wel with seven counts of supplying alcohol to minors. The seven minors, ranging in age from 16 to 20, were charged with possession of alcohol under the legal age.
Sheriff Altena says the postings and pictures on Facebook made it clear that underage persons were drinking at Vander Wel’s home.
"For us, it was a matter of looking at the information and being able to build a case from there," Altena said. "The information we received…we did not try to locate those folks in the pictures. We just built a case from what we had and moved on from there."
Altena says his deputies routinely check websites like Facebook or MySpace for possible illegal activity in the area.
"It’s beneficial to us because this is something that, in the past, before this technology…we wouldn’t have got this type of information in that way," Altena said.
The boys and girls charged with possession of alcohol at Vander Wel’s home are from the towns of Alton, Sioux Center, Orange City and Le Mars.