Narcotics officer busts still operation

Published: July 23, 2010

COAL CITY — St. Clair County Narcotics Investigator Cary Ward discovered something other than drugs Tuesday – a moonshine-making still.

“This is the first time I’ve seen one in operation,” Ward said Thursday. “It makes you think of the olden days when the moon shiners were into it pretty big.”

Tuesday afternoon, Ward helped break up his first moonshine-making still at 1021 Pine Road, Pell City.

He said it all started with a tip, and he later discovered there were two warrants for a man staying at the residence where the purported still was in operation.

So Ward, along with a patrol deputy, went to the residence to serve the warrant.

The suspect, Michael Carroll, 30, of Pell City, escaped capture by fleeing into nearby woods.

“When I went on the porch, there was the still in plain view,” Ward said.

He said Carroll was apparently looking after the home for some relatives who were out of state and knew nothing about the still.

“He (Carroll) was charged with the possession of a still,” Ward said, adding that authorities are still searching for the suspect. “After we secured the house, we found another guy hiding in a back bedroom.”

Ward identified that man as Jessie Dewayne Macon, 41, of Pell City, who was arrested and charged with the possession of a still, which is a Class C felony.

Ward said he contacted the Alabama Beverage Control Board and an agent from the ABC Board verified the still was in fact a moonshine-making still.

“I let him (the ABC Board agent) take possession of the still,” Ward said. “We destroyed about five gallons of moonshine inside the still and about 15 gallons of corn mash that was being prepared for moonshine.”

He said the still was capable of producing about five gallons of moonshine during a single run.

“It was apparent, this wasn’t the first batch that was made from the still,” Ward added.

He said Macon was released from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department Jail Thursday on a $2,500 bond.

He said anyone with information about Carroll’s whereabouts should contact the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.

Ward said the still was a potential fire hazard.

“They were using a hot plate underneath it for their heat source,” he said.

Ward also said a child could become sick or even die from accidental exposure to moonshine.

He said other items were found at the residence that would relate to a drug investigation.

Ward said this may be his first still to break-up, but it may not be his last.

“We aren’t actively looking for them,” Ward said. “But, there’s more stills in St. Clair County that we just haven’t found.”

He said it’s against state law to produce any distilled liquor without proper state licenses.

Lt. Mike Reese, with the Alabama Beverage Control Board, said currently it is against the law for anyone to make beer without proper state licenses. A violation of this state law is a misdemeanor.

Reese said it is not illegal for Alabama residents to make their own wine, if they grow their own grapes for the homemade wine. He said no more than five gallons of homemade wine can be produce within a year.

Reese said although the possession of a still to make distilled liquor is a felony, possession of moonshine is only a misdemeanor.

Contact David Atchison

StClaire Bust