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Another Moonshine Bust in Johnston County

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BENSON — In the latest of a string ofmoonshine busts, State agents have found another still inJohnston County, this one located under a swamp.

The latest liquid loot came from a secluded area just a few miles fromBenson. After an anonymous tip, Alcohol Law Enforcement agents went inand found what they were looking for. Agent Bill Newsome says this was amajor bootleg operation.

At that rate, the suspect Billy Ray Wood was allegedly cheating taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. Agents say he didn't pay the$25-per-gallon tax required by the government.

Benson resident Jonathan Wiggins says many in rural Johnston County sayrunning moonshine is more of a family tradition than a crime.

Benson resident Matthew McLamb agrees. He says people have been gettingaway with it for years.

But ALE agents say they may be gaining on the age-old business ofbootlegging. They've shut down more than a dozen stills since earlyDecember. Their biggest battle now, according to Newsome, is getting moreteeth added to the charges. Each of the recent busts led only tomisdemeanor charges.

Newsome says the suspect in this case could face a maximum of 10 yearsin jail, though agents don't expect him to get anything close to that.He says it is not simply an issue of right or wrong. Illegal stills pose ahealth issue as well. For example, this particular suspect was making hismash with swamp water and his mash contained lead and other contaminants.

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