NEWPORT - A potential moonshine operation was shut down Friday by the Washington County Sheriff's Office after a warrant was used to search the property of Rick Ward, 52, at 3725 Bells Run Road, Newport, officials said.
"We got a tip. Our officers went up to check it out and the garage door was opened and our officers could see a big 55-gallon barrel and some copper tubing," said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.
Unlike making homemade wine or beer, making liquor requires a distillation process that creates harmful byproducts.
Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Friday at a suspected still. The warrant produced several pieces of equipment typically used in moonshining operations, officials said.
"In layman's terms what happens is ... when you start the first part of the distillation process, the first part that comes out is poisonous," said Mincks.
The process is highly flammable, another reason why the law prohibits homemade operations.
The sheriff's office obtained a search warrant and was able to retrieve several barrels and bottles full of liquid, a large galvanized container, which appears to have been used for distillation, and several other pieces of equipment, officials said.
Ward was not arrested and no charges have been filed.
Charges will likely be forthcoming, said Mincks, though it will be up to the prosecutor's office to determine the magnitude of the charges.
Last year, the sheriff's office said it discovered moonshine operations in Vincent and Waterford. The defendants in those cases, Archie Curry and Dwayne Angus, have charges pending in Marietta Municipal Court but results from the state labs have yet to arrive, said Mincks.
The Ohio Revised Code lists the illegal manufacture of liquor as a first-degree misdemeanor; however, if state testing finds any number of poisonous components, the charge can be elevated to a fifth-degree felony.