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Trouble 'Brews' Again for Harnett Moonshiner

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HARNETT COUNTY — Alcohol Law Enforcementagents say Douglas Bethune is a familiar face. They have broken up his moonshine operations before, but they say he keeps his illegal operation going.

It did not take long for agents to ax the mash. They destroyed more than 2,600 gallons of the fermenting mixture and nearly 500 gallons of the illegal liquor.

Agents says it is always a "happy bust day" when they can get rid of distilleries, including one off Highway 27 in Harnett County, especially when the brewer is a familiar face.

Police say a tip led them to the operation run by Bethune, 56, and his son, Dennis.

"It's hard to hide an operation like this as big as something like this is. The smell alone will tip someone off, and that will have them call us," explained Ricki Barbour of the Wake County ABC.

According to court records, since 1991, Bethune has been charged several times in connection with moonshine. In most cases, he paid a small fine and was back in business.

In October 1998, he was busted again, and because it was a repeat offense, he was charged with a felony. But, he still got off without jail time.

The profits are so large that agent John Adorjan believes the only way to stop them is to send the liquor makers to jail.

"I'd personally like to see any manufacturing offense automatically become a felony the first time. I think that would deter folks from making liquor if they did active prison time or were severely fined for it," said ALE Agent John Adorjan.

Police say the Bethunes will be charged with misdemeanors in the bust. But, they hope to upgrade the charges to a felony as they further their investigation.