Deputies find moonshine whiskey 'operation,' suspect arrested

Released by the TABC:

At approximately 8:00 pm on January 11, 2010, agents with the Longview District of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), as well as deputies from the Smith County Sheriff's Department, executed a search warrant at a residence in southeast Smith County. The law enforcement officers seized a 55-gallon still, copper tubing associated with the still, burners, two propane bottles and approximately nine gallons of product commonly referred to as moonshine whisky. Click here to check out photos.

Earlier that afternoon, Tyler Outpost Agent Tim Maloney was contacted by Smith County deputies after they received information from a confidential informant. Agent Maloney met with the Smith County authorities and determined there was a working mash barrel and bottles of suspected moonshine whisky at the location. Agent Maloney secured the search warrant from a local judge and the law enforcement officers served the warrant. The suspect in the case will have criminal charges presented to the local district attorney this week.

The suspect, Sedrick Lucille Johnson, Jr. (DOB 5/21/51), faces charges of possession of illicit alcoholic beverages and possession of equipment to manufacture illicit alcoholic beverages. Both crimes are misdemeanors punishable by $100-$1,000 and/or up to a year in jail. "Making and selling moonshine is a public safety risk," says TABC Lt. Allan Cameron. He adds, "The obvious lack of sanitary conditions makes this product a health hazard for anyone who drinks it. Also, the moonshiners are working off an open flame, and fires are a big concern."

Although it is legal for Texans to make limited amounts of wine or beer for personal consumption without holding a TABC permit, it is not legal to manufacture distilled spirits without holding a TABC Distiller's Permit. Also, it is illegal to sell any alcoholic beverages without the appropriate TABC license or permit.

TABC Sgt. Jeff Taylor supervised the operation. TABC Agents Tim Maloney, David Salazar, Chase Glover and Joey Davidson and Smith County Deputies Robert Britton and Daniel Leon participated in the warrant execution and the seizure.