Moonshine bust a rare occurrence in Pike County

Published 1:03 am Thursday, October 10, 2019

A tip last week led the Pike County Sheriff’s Office to a 35-barrel moonshine still tucked away in the woods of northern Pike County.

Deputies began work quickly to dismantle and destroy the equipment to make the still unable to be operated.

Sheriff Russell Thomas said the bootlegging business has clearly not completely vanished, but it is much more rare today than it was even 50 years ago.

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“Years ago, a lot of people made their living making moonshine and there’s still some of that that goes on in certain parts of the state and country,” Thomas said. “There’s even a TV show detailing it. But it’s not very common and we hear very little about it here in Pike County.”

Thomas said it is difficult though for deputies to know about the stills without people giving information, as the stills are often located in rural areas.

“They conceal them well back in the woods, and during the summer time they’ve got good cover from the trees and the shade,” Thomas said. “It’s extremely difficult to spot from the air.”

But with the help from the tip, the deputies were able to find and destroy the still and all of the moonshine that was already made at the site. Thomas projected the operation could produce $7,000 of profit per run. The same tip also led Bullock County authorities to another 22-barrel still that was connected to the Pike County operation.

Thomas said destroying the still sets back the illegal distillers by approximately $2,500 just for the materials, and that setting up the still is also a lot of work. And with temperatures finally beginning to drop, no moonshine stills will be cooking soon as the heat is needed for the process.

Thomas said anyone that knows of any illegal alcohol distillation should contact the sheriff’s department so that they can ensure all alcohol is made legally and safely.

“Any time we develop information that leads to criminal activity, we will pursue it,” Thomas said.