UNION COUNTY — Two men are in jail after narcotics officers and sheriff’s deputies serving a search warrant on their home found more 250 gallons of moonshine this morning.
James Wallace Harris, 51, and Manual Grady “Preach” Harris, 89, both of 208 Pasture Drive, Union, are charged by the Union County Sheriff’s Office with possession of illegal liquor.
Sheriff David Taylor announced the arrests during a press conference this afternoon while standing in front of two pickup trucks loaded with the jugs of moonshine he said were confiscated from the Harris residence that morning.
Taylor said that the Union County Narcotics Taskforce went to the Harris residence around 10 a.m. to serve a search warrant. He said that once the warrant was served and the Harrises secured, narcotics officers and deputies began searching the premises.
The taskforce was looking for moonshine and Taylor said that’s what they found, beginning with three gallons in the refrigerator in the house.
The discovery of the moonshine in their refrigerator lead to the Harrises being placed under arrest and taken to the Union County Jail.
After the Harrises were taken into custody, Taylor said the search expanded to include the rest of the property which he said was also covered by the search warrant.
This included a carport storage room where Taylor said investigators found 54 gallons of moonshine.
Narcotics officers and deputies searched the rest of the property as well including a cattle barn where Taylor said they found 197 gallons of moonshine.
Altogether, investigators seized 254 gallons of moonshine which Taylor said his office has determined is the largest amount of illegal alcohol seized in Union County.
Taylor said investigators estimate that the moonshine seized from the Harris property sells for between $25 and $3o a gallon.
In addition to the moonshine, Taylor said investigators also seized $40,000 in cash.
Taylor said this was James Harris’ first offense which carries a minimum penalty of a $600 fine and six months in prison.
It was Manual Harris’ second offense which Taylor said carries a minimum penalty of a $1,500 fine or one year in prison. He added that Manual Harris has a criminal record reaching back to 1977.
When asked if investigators found a still during their search of the Harris property, Taylor said no they had not. Taylor added that investigators are still trying to determine whether or not the Harrises made the moonshine themselves or bought it from someone else and were selling it.
In addition, Taylor said that it while it was obvious that this operation has been going on for some time, investigators were still trying to determine the extent of the distribution of the moonshine. He declined, however, to state whether or not investigators had based their search warrant on any information provided them, saying only that they’d had probable cause.
No further arrests are expected at the present time, but Taylor said the investigation is continuing.
Taylor praised the Union County Narcotics Taskforce for its work, saying he would compare them with any team of narcotics investigators in the state.
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