White lightning, an illicitly distilled and seldom-seen liquor for which parts of Georgia were once well known, thundered back into the limelight Thursday morning when Liberty County Multi Agency Crack Enforcement Team agents busted an apparent moonshine still.Authorities executed a search warrant for Hershel Everrett Johnson’s home in the 2400 block of Screven Fork Road and found an operational moonshine manufacturing still in a shed adjacent to the home. Agents also seized several marijuana plants found growing on the property.
The MACE team received a tip about the moonshine operation as the result of another case Liberty County Sheriff’s Office deputies worked on, according to Capt. David Edwards.
Edwards, who would not go into detail for fear of identifying his source said, "An officer who was working on another case was told by a confidential informant moonshine was being manufactured on the property."
MACE Commander James Reid said his squad executed the warrant at about 6:30 a.m. in search of the still and narcotics on the property. "We found the still as well as ingredients to manufacture liquor, as well as dozens of empty bottles which is used to place the liquor in," he said.
In the shed, agents found two 55-gallon drums containing fermenting corn, wheat and sugar. Hot air, thick with the smell of alcohol, swirled around a drum connected to a radiator, pipes and a condenser. A water hose, likely used to cool the product, and a propane tank were discovered in close proximity to the still. Nearby, a five-gallon bucket containing what appeared to be finished moonshine. An agent who declined to be identified said, "This was a significant operation."
According to Reid, Johnson was arrested and charged with manufacturing liquor and marijuana.
The discovery of an active moonshine operation in Liberty County is unusual, said Reid, who couldn’t recall the last time a still was busted in the area. "I think it was in the late 1990s," he said.
Agents on the scene destroyed the still using hammers.