Local News

Deputies Uncover 'Elaborate' Moonshine Operation

Posted April 24, 2008 2:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2008 5:54 a.m. EDT

— Charges were pending against a Johnston County farmer after sheriff's deputies uncovered more than $5,000 in moonshine and illegal substances at his farm.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said investigators were looking for a stolen tractor when they happened upon the smell of fermenting mash at Stony Brook Farms in Four Oaks.

Upon further investigation, they found a 500-gallon still and pipes running beneath a barn to a second barn. There, they found more than 200 jugs of moonshine.

"This was an elaborate moonshine operation," Bizzell said of the facilities they uncovered Tuesday.

In a third barn, they found 12 medium-sized marijuana plants growing and small quantities of methamphetamine and ecstasy and two handguns, they said. Investigators also found 125 $1 bills wadded inside the barn's walls.

Investigators have turned over the moonshine operation to the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement to investigate Rickie Wayne Norris, 52, of 7763 Strickland Crossroads Road. The North Carolina Department of Revenue was also investigating.

Deputies also arrested his son, Jeremy Wayne Norris, 21, for possessing and manufacturing drugs. He was out of jail Thursday on a $50,000 secured bond.

"Apparently, the son felt like, 'If it was OK for daddy to make liquor, it was OK for me to be involved in meth, ecstasy and growing marijuana,'" Bizzell said.

Bizzell said that, historically, many have turned a cheek to moonshine, but not him.

"A lot of people think making moonshine is OK, but my job as sheriff is to enforce the criminal laws of the state of North Carolina," he said. "And as long am I'm sheriff, I will do that."

Making and selling moonshine in North Carolina are misdemeanors. Moonshine currently sells for between $20 and $40 per gallon.