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Alleged ‘moonshiner’ discovered in Chickasha woods

CHICKASHA, Okla.- Police in Grady County were tasked with investigating an unusual crime; they say officers caught a suspected moonshiner running a backwoods still earlier this week.

Authorities were first called to the woods Wednesday afternoon after someone reported seeing ‘something cooking’ in the woods.

That’s when officers found the moonshine still.

Police admit this is not an issue they deal with very often.

Det. Sgt.Traye Alexander, with the Chickasha Police Department, said, “It was a first for me.”

Detective Alexander says 29-year-old Ryan Smith admitted to operating the still.

Police also found two bottles of suspected moonshine whiskey on scene.

The suspect allegedly stole hardware from the Livestock Nutrition Center, where he worked as a temp, and combined that with corn yeast and sugar to commit the odd crime.

Alexander said, “It’s very uncommon. I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve never had to deal with something like this.”

“I thought moonshine was what they did in the country,” said one nearby neighbor.  “I mean this is the city.”

Police suspect the still had not been operating for very long but say the illegal operation could have been dangerous.

“The rigging itself, you’re talking about an open flame in a wooded area and it’s been dry lately,” said Alexander. “Yeah, it could be dangerous.”

Erik Smoot, an agent with ABLE, said, “Each year it’s increasing over the last several years.”

Smoot says shows like Moonshiners on Discovery have led to a rise in the number of illegal stills but statewide the number of busts remain in the single figures each year.

Smoot said, “Last year we found five. This year we are on track for more than that.”

Police don’t know what the suspect intended to do with the liquor he made but it is a felony to distill any alcohol in the state without proper permits and licenses.