March 30, 2012
News Release Contact:
Carol B. Mawyer - (804) 219-2022
ABC Agents Utilize Air / Ground Operation In Moonshine Enforcement
- Collaborative effort between ABC and State Police culminates in four-day air/ground operation.
- Twenty-five inactive, but operational stills and numerous liquor-making supplies located and destroyed in Franklin, Pittsylvania and Carroll counties.
RICHMOND – A collaborative enforcement effort between Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Virginia State Police (VSP) should have an impact on future moonshine production in three Virginia counties.
Nearly a dozen ABC special agents, with assistance from VSP Air Division, conducted a four-day air and ground operation that resulted in the discovery and destruction of 25 inactive, but operational stills and various quantities of liquor-making supplies in Franklin, Pittsylvania and Carroll counties.
The joint operation, the first between the agencies in years, was the culmination of a nearly two-year investigation on the manufacturing of illegal whiskey in a tri-county area, said Special Agent in Charge J. Chris Goodman. ABC special agents gathered intelligence for many months before compiling a list of suspected sites.
The air/ground operation occurred March 15 and 16 and again March 26 and 27. Utilizing VSP aircraft and pilots, ABC special agents functioned as in-air spotters and worked in tandem with enforcement personnel on the ground. Agents from Lynchburg, Roanoke and Southwest Virginia handled the ground responsibilities.
The team flew over 51 pre-determined sites searching for stills and illegal distilling apparatus. In addition to the operational stills, agents also found 15 inoperable stills destroyed in previous busts.
“The focus of this cooperative effort was to locate and incapacitate existing stills,” said Goodman. “The operation was successful and one we’ll, more than likely, repeat.”
In addition to verifying still locations, agents seized and destroyed more than three dozen 800- and 400- gallon black pot stills as well as other paraphernalia used in the manufacture and distribution of illegal whiskey.
Pending discussions with the commonwealth’s attorney, criminal indictments will be sought in Franklin County for several suspects for possession of distilling apparatus, possession of untaxed liquor and felony firearms violations by a convicted felon.
The Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 16,000 ABC licensed establishments, and the agency currently operates 336 state stores. ABC also provides alcohol education and prevention programs to citizens throughout the state. A major source of revenue for Virginia, Virginia ABC has contributed more than $1.5 billion to the commonwealth in the last five years. Now in its 78th year, Virginia ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.