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Moon Still Shining In Johnston County

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JOHNSTON COUNTY — Call it white lightning, mountain elixir or moonshine; it's illegal. Alcohol Law Enforcement agents drained two moonshine stills dry Friday, in one of the biggest raids in Johnston County.

Authorities say the stills have been running for about two years. They say the stills were high quality, and the owner had a lot of time and money invested in his operation.

The aroma of fermenting mash is overwhelming in the small shed, where water, sugar and yeast mix with the most important ingredient: grain.

Agent Vance Jackson says the grain is ground, and sold to feed mills to be used as a base for cow feed and horse feed.

A week later, the feed is used to make 104 proof moonshine, worth $20 a gallon. One still would have produced more than 800 gallons, tax free.

Rottweilers had to be lured away from the still before agents could get to it. But the owner's second shed down the road wasn't as well-protected.

The second shed housed a still with nearly 6,500 gallons of mash.

The street value of the mash in both stills totalled nearly $30,000 dollars. The stills alone are worth $55,000.

Agents have been watching the stills for a week. But they still don't know where the moonshine goes. They do know, though, that adults aren't the only ones getting it.

"Kids get a hold of it because the people who sell this stuff apparently do not ask for ID's," Agent Bill Newsome said. "They don't care if you're 21 or not."

The agents destroyed everything during the raid.

Douglas Bethune owns the property. Charges against the 56-year-old are pending. He's been arrested twice before for making moonshine, most recently about three years ago. Reporter: Lynda LovelandPhotographer: Dave Renner

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