After months of investigation and a call for help to the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms, the Newton Police Department broke up a moonshine operation in Newton.
Thursday morning a federal search warrant was executed by ATF, Alcoholic Beverage Control and the police department in a house at 1013 E. 7th. A full, working and active still was located in the basement as well as homemade liquor. Two types of liquor were found — whiskey and moonshine. All items were seized and or destroyed. The suspects had both been using and selling the illegal liquor.
According to the Newton Police Department, the shiners were selling both types of alcohol they were making — typically mixing the moonshine with fruit and selling it in canning jars. Abut 10 containers of various sizes were seized Thursday.
This is the first bust of a still in Newton, and quite possibly the state of Kansas, since prohibition.
“Prohibition ended in Kansas in 1948,” said Lt. Scott Powell of the Newton Police Department. “This is this the first case we are aware of. We were pulling ATF agents from other places because no one has worked on in Kansas.”
Powell said when the shiners on E. Seventh began selling the liquor to friends, the department became aware of the operation. After investigation of the house and the assistance of the ATF, a bust was made.
The setup made use of metal barrels, electric heaters and coiled pipe to process corn into an alcohol product. Portions of what was seized will be tested.
Liquor-control laws in the United States that prohibit moonshining, once consisting of a total ban under the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, center primarily on evasion of revenue taxation on spiritous and/or intoxicating liquors, and are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the United States Department of Justice.
Two people face charges in federal court. Charges are pending a Grand Jury. No official arrests have been made and the names of the suspects have not been released.
“I don't event want to guess what what the charges will be,” Powell said.
Powell said the still was operating when agents entered the home, even though the residents were not in the home at that time.
It is unknown just how much hooch was being produced.
“This guy was producing quite a bit,” Powell said. “It was enough that the feds were interrested in this.”
Poorly produced moonshine can be contaminated from materials used in the construction of the still. Contaminants can include copper, lead and methanol that can cause blindness and liver disease.
“It could be a serious health issue,” Powell said.