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Mississippi Puts Moonshiners Out of Business

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(Batesville, MS) Batesville police loaded up equipment, the likes of which they’ve only seen in movies or the TV reality show "Moonshiners".

Most in these parts say they haven’t seen an amateur alcohol distillery since Prohibition times in the 1930s.

”Yeah, it’s unusual, right here in town, especially being right next to my business about.” said Bobby Morrow, whose business sits just a couple doors down from the building where police found the still, as they responded to a disturbance call.

”Once they got there, they first thought they’d come up on a crystal meth lab. They started examining a little closer and they really realized it was a whiskey still” said Batesville Police Chief Tony Jones.

Batesville officials called the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Commission, who arrested 36-year-old Toby Alan Helms.

They described Helms set-up as elaborate, using beer kegs with a pressure cooker welded to the top and several propane tanks to heat the mash.

Why would anybody want to go to this much trouble to use propane to heat their product? Most likely it was to keep neighbors from finding out what he was up to.

Chief Jones says it worked, for a while.

Now, Helms is the talk of the town for rekindling what most here thought was a lost skill.

”This is the first that I have seen in this city, and I have been here for 36 years” Jones explained.

Helms’s still isn’t the only one revenuers discovered recently.

Officers in Alcorn County found a still outside Corinth and arrested 52-year-old Roger Lee Sharp and his 27-year-old son, Robert, for doing the same thing. The two even sold moonshine to an undercover officer.

Jones wonders if it was all worth it.

”You could probably go to the liquor store and buy it cheaper than you can probably make it," he said.

And it's certainly a lot easier.