"He was cooking it when we got here...."
Cooking moonshine that is.
Agent Rusty Hanna with the Alcoholic Beverage Control agency is talking about 60-year-old James Koonce. Around 9:00 a.m. Friday morning Koonce was arrested at his home on S.L. Wilson Road, on charges of possession and the manufacture of moonshine.
"We seized 16 barrels of stell, 800 gallons of mash, 210 gallons of whiskey and approximately $1200 in cash," Agent Hanna said.
Although the arrest is the result of a six-month investigation, agents say it's likely that Koonce had been manufacturing the moonshine for several years in a trailer behind his house.
It took the agents several hours to dispose of the moonshine. Aside from 100 gallons of it, which was already packaged in gallon jugs, agents say even more was found stored in huge barrels.
"This steel could make about 160 gallons of whiskey a week. At $20 a gallon, you're looking at $3,200 a week, gross. He probably cleared about 60 to 65 percent of that," said Agent Hanna.
Agent Hanna goes on to say that it appears Koonce was preparing to package more moonshine. An additional 1500 brand new, empty gallon jugs were found and ten discarded.
At this time investigators say it is still unknown if others were involved in the operation. Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing.
As for Koonce, he is now being held in the Lauderdale County jail on $11,000 bond. He faces a felony charge for the manufacture of whiskey and a misdemeanor charge for possession of moonshine. If convicted he could face up to three years in prison and a $500 fine.
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