Johnston County News

ALE cracks down on illegal moonshine operations across NC

BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) - In the past two months, the North Carolina Alcoholic Law Enforcement has shut down several illegal moonshine operations across the state.

Agents shut down setups in Newton Grove (Sampson County), Henderson, Roxboro, Robbins (Moore County) and Benson in April and May.

In the biggest bust, agents seized a 560-gallon liquor still in Newton Grove. Agents also said non-tax paid liquor was being sold from an auto-repair shop in Roxboro.

ALE agents said illegal moonshine operations not only evade tax rules in North Carolina, but without regulation, the liquor could also be contaminated.

There have been cases where dead rodents have been found in the products used to make liquor, according to agents.

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“A lot of people don’t think it’s as prevalent today as it used to be, but it is,” said Israel Morrow, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the ALE. “We’re seeing a spike of violence at these types of locations where we are finding non-tax-paid liquor.”

The only way you can legally produce moonshine in North Carolina is by obtaining a distillery permit from the state.

Jeremy Norris owns one of the few moonshine distilleries in the central part of the state. He opened Broadslab Distillery in 2012 on the same piece of land in Johnston County where his grandfather worked to perfect the moonshine craft, and passed down the recipe to his grandson.

“My granddaddy always told me that once it got in your blood, you couldn’t get it out,” Norris said. “It’s the history and the stories and the way of life, and one of those staple products that help carry us forward.”

Norris says the ALE has cracked down on several illegal moonshine operations near his distillery. He believes for many, the bootlegging tradition is tough to let go of.

“Now there’s still a few left, but it’s nowhere as big as it used to be,” he said.

As for his distillery, Norris says it’s given him the opportunity to carry on the heritage of his family’s moonshine makings, and allows others to legally take part in it as well.

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