Moonshine bust in Rankin County - - Jackson, MS

Moonshine bust in Rankin County

RANKIN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Did you think moonshine was a thing of the past?

"It really doesn't surprise me," said Mack Bagwell of Louisville. "The economy's bad, people do what they have to do to make a living these days." 

"I know a bunch of people that do it," said Colton Pierce of Rankin County. 

Seventy-five year-old Sidney Lawrence Smith of Lone Pine Church Road in Sand Hill faces two misdemeanor charges and a felony for making moonshine at a bootleg distillery at his house. A picture of the operation depicts copper pipes running through a pair of barrels. 

The Mississippi Department of Revenue's Alcoholic Beverage Control agents made the arrest on June 16 after a six-month investigation. 

"Our agents had some undercover purchases of illegal whiskey, also known as moonshine, which led to an investigation, which led them to the execution of a search warrant," said spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury. 

Eighty-one gallons of non-tax paid whiskey were seized, along with 220 gallons of mash, 900 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of chops, 100 pounds of rye, four 55-gallon mash drums, two 55-gallon condensing drums, one 110-gallon cooker, and two copper coils. 

Smith wasn't arrested so there's no booking photo, and he didn't answer the door for us. 

The loss of tax dollars on the bootleg alcohol is not the Department of Revenue's concern. They're worried about the health risks for those who visit backroads distilleries and consume the product. 

"Our agents have told me about times going out in the woods and finding rodents in the mash where they will just flick them out and keep producing the stuff," said Waterbury. "It's stored in bleach containers and pesticide containers that have been rinsed out." 

Waterbury tells us agents uncover about 12 moonshine operations per year in Mississippi, mostly in the east central and northeastern parts of the state. 

Smith will have to appear in court on two misdemeanor charges of sale and possession of alcohol in a dry county, and manufacture of illegal whiskey. He also faces a felony charge of possession of an illegal distillery. 

Agents destroyed the distillery and disposed of the alcohol. 

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