KERMIT, W. Va. – While the image of a moonshiner tucked away in the hills producing illicit liquor can be romanticized in Appalachian culture, the clandestine activity is still illegal and law enforcement is actively moving to find and dismantle illicit moonshine operations in the area.
The Kermit Police Department (KPD), in conjunction with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) and West Virginia State Police (WVSP), was recently lead to the discovery of an illicit moonshine still in Mingo County.
Kermit Police Chief Ernie Chambers reports he received an anonymous tip Saturday Oct. 10 detailing the illegal moonshine operation. The tipster reportedly informed Chambers of the location of the still and the brewer’s stock of moonshine.
Chambers reports he contacted Deputy Steven Messer, with the MCSD, and Trooper Buddy Rose, with the WVSP, for assistance investigating the matter.
Chambers, Messer and Rose travelled to the home of James Gillman where they were reportedly able to make contact Gillman. While questioning Gillman, Chambers reports he was fully compliant. Gillman is reported to have signed a release allowing law enforcement to search his home.
“Upon our search we did find and confiscate a complete still that included the worm, bumper and burners,” explained Chambers.
Law enforcement was reportedly able to locate large quantities of sugar and corn, a 55 gallon drum of fermenting mash and around 90 gallons of moonshine packaged for distribution. Chambers stated they believed Gillman was preparing the mash to be brewed on the same the night as the raid.
Chambers reports the still and moonshine have been transferred the WVSP and the case has been turned over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Gillman has reportedly been charged with a felony count of unlawful operation of a plant manufacturing distilled spirits. If he is found guilty, Gillman could be forced to spend between one and five years in a state correctional facility and pay up to $1,000 in fines.
Criminal complaints are public information. Charges listed in a complaint are merely accusations; defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
(Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-235-4242 or by email at [email protected].)