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Moonshine, ‘Revenuers’ Rebound In Mississippi

July 20, 1987

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ The Mississippi moonshine industry seems to be thriving, thanks to steady demand and reduced costs of ingredients, but that means business also is brisk for raiding ″revenuers.″

State Alcoholic Beverage Control agents seized 57 illegal distilleries in Mississippi during the past fiscal year, a 14 percent increase over the year before and an indication there’s a stable market for homemade corn and rye whiskey.

″I expect it to remain steady,″ said Capt. Jimmy Sullivan, chief of enforcement for the beverage control division of the state Tax Commission. ″Somebody is drinking it.″

Agents have found stills all over the state - indicating statewide demand from drinkers, Sullivan said.

Lower costs of rye, corn and sugar also encourage would-be moonshiners.

So far in July, state agents have raided two more stills.

The latest raid was Thursday, when agents found a 55-gallon still and 10 fermenting barrels in Madison County near Pickens. The still was hidden in a house that had been converted for use as a barn, said Capt. David Wilson of the division’s Jackson office.

Officers seized seven gallons of moonshine and 500 gallons of fermenting rye mash. One person was charged with possession of an illegal distillery, a misdemeanor.

Raids of moonshine stills have increased steadily since fiscal 1984, when nine stills were destroyed. That climbed to 19 in fiscal 1985, then soared to 50 in fiscal 1986. The 1987 fiscal year topped that with 57 stills raided.

Figures aren’t yet available for the number of arrests for moonshine making in fiscal 1987. Agents arrested 42 people the year before.

″We are putting more man-hours into locating and seizing these operations. It’s a dangerous product to be on the market,″ Sullivan said.

″It’s produced under totally unsanitary conditions. We have gotten rats out of the mash barrels and snakes and birds. The water they use may be coming out of stagnant ponds. They’ve even gotten (water) out of streams where there were dead animals laying 200 to 400 yards up the creek.″

Lead poisoning is also possible, he said, since many homemade distilleries use old car radiators, which contain lead, in the condensing process.

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