12/23/10 — Hundreds of gallons of moonshine captured in 3 counties

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Hundreds of gallons of moonshine captured in 3 counties

By Gary Popp
Published in News on December 23, 2010 1:46 PM

More than 250 gallons of illegally manufactured alcohol were seized in Johnston County late last week, following an investigation led by the state Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency.

The arrests were announced Wednesday afternoon.

Nearly 4,000 gallons of a precursor ingredient, "mash," were found at the same illegal distillery in Benson, said ALE Special Agent G.S. Young of the Raleigh district office.

Young said there were 14 250-gallon containers of the mash on the site.

Young said that it takes approximately 10 gallons of mash to create a single gallon of liquor.

"It was an elaborate operation that included a 500-gallon cooker," Young said.

Young said that as far as non-tax paid liquor goes, the incident was a significant seizure.

"For whatever reason, in this area, numerous arrests have been made for similar offenses," Young said.

Four raids were made just last year, said Special Agent Jeff Lasater, who supervised the latest roundup.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said "moonshining" is something of a tradition in the county.

"It has always kind of been known as "farming in the woods," as the old saying goes," Bizzell said.

Bizzell said about 10 deputies assisted ALE officer in the raid.

About 45 50-pound bags of sugar used in the manufacturing process also were seized, Bizzell said. It will be put to another use, he noted.

"A judge issued a court order to use the sugar in the kitchen of the jail," Bizzell said.

ALE agents also located nearly 300 gallons of non-taxpaid alcohol in a vehicle in Warrenton, near the Virginia border, and more moonshine in Halifax County. Those stashes were traced to the Johnston County operation, officials said.