Following a tip from the Diboll
Police Department, Angelina County law enforcement officials confiscated 150
gallons of distilled liquor Tuesday morning from a Lufkin home.
The house is located on the 1000
block of Woodland Drive and owned by Bruce Lee Love, 44, the owner and
president of DP Solutions.
But, Love told KTRE news, that
this so-called "moonshine bust," is not anything like it seems. Love says he
has actually been working with several officials on getting a federal permit so
he can open and operate Love Distilleries Inc., a new company he founded. He
also said the confiscated equipment is commercial-grade and is intended for the
Love said he published a legal
notice of his intent in February 2011 and since then purchased distillery
equipment based off of advice he had received from the Texas Alcohol and
Beverage Commission. Love says they told him that in order for him to get the
permit to own and operate a distillery in Lufkin he needed to purchase
equipment and get it inspected first.
He said he has spoken to several
people about his intention to open the distillery and has found the process
very complicated. Recounting his steps to get more information on applying for
the permit, he said he was first directed to Lufkin TABC agent Joey Davidson
who then directed Love to Terry Hagen at TABC Longview. Hagen then directed
Love to Loretta Green at TABC Arlington who then pointed him to the Alcohol and
Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. They told Love he needed to get a federal permit
before he could obtain a permit from TABC, which he has been working on
Love was also told he needed to
get a letter from the City of Lufkin granting him permission to open and
operate a distillery within the city limits. He said he contacted the mayor's
office, Judge Wes Suiter, and Jim Wehmeier, the former economic development
director, about his intentions and says he has all the paperwork to prove that
he was working on getting the permit.
He said the permit plans stalled
once he had a death in his family and the process began to find it difficult to
navigate through the steps of applying for the permit. But he says he has
continued his plans to obtain the permit and open the distillery.
TABC Lieutenant Jeff Taylor said
the Angelina County Sheriff's Department received the tip Monday evening that Love had distilled liquor in his
possession. Taylor says the Sheriff's department then contacted TABC about the
investigation. It was a collaborative effort between DPS, TABC, the Sheriff's
Department, and Diboll PD to confiscate the liquor and distillery equipment.
"They forwarded that to us and
through a joint investigation we drew up a search warrant, got a search
warrant, signed this morning and executed the search warrant and this is what
we found," Taylor said.
Taylor said they served the
search warrant on Tuesday around 10:30 a.m. and confiscated several 15-gallon
barrels and a handful of quart-size Mason jars filled with clear and amber
liquor from a detached garage at Love's residence.
"There was approximately 100
gallons of what we call ‘mash', the finished product. That's one of the largest
deals that we've gotten in awhile, so it's a pretty elaborate set up," Taylor
Love says he is not doing
anything against the law and this is just a paperwork issue. He says he
supports whatever decision authorities make, but says this is not anything
close to a covert moonshine operation and he was trying to start a public
business with city and federal approval.
But Sheriff Greg Sanches says it
is still illegal to possess distilled liquor without a permit.
"Right now, course, we're still
investigating this and making sure of everything and making sure that there is not
any other violations involved that could lead us off to something else. Right
now we're getting a warrant. We will get a warrant and issue the warrant and
arrest that person," Sanches said.
The barrels will be tested for alcohol
in Austin then dumped, Taylor said. The jars will also be tested and kept for
Sanches says if Love is
convicted, he will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, but will face Class A
charges. In the state of Texas those charges are up to $4,000 in fines and a
year in prison.
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