By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)———————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Westminster man on charges of having illegal liquor still.
21 year old Colby Edward Watts of 115 Watts Trail Drive in Westminster was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 6:56am this morning. He turned himself in to law enforcement authorities. Watts has been charged with possession of a distillery for the purpose of manufacturing alcoholic liquors and possession of materials used in the manufacture of alcoholic liquors. Watts has been released on a total $1,200 personal recognizance bond after appearing before a magistrate this morning. Watts has a court hearing in General Sessions court scheduled for April 11th.
According to deputies, narcotics agents from the Sheriff’s Office received information from an officer of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources of a moonshine still in plain view at the Watts Trail Drive location as that agent was investigating a complaint unrelated to the discovery of the still. This occurred around 4pm Wednesday. The DNR officer stated that a large portion of the still was outside of a storage building door with several mason jars which were filled with a clear liquid sitting next to a 55 gallon drum.
Once the narcotics agents arrived on the scene, they received consent to search the premises from Watts father, where they uncovered the remaining part of the still inside the storage building under a 55 gallon drum. Watts arrived on the scene a little while later where he admitted that the still was his and he had been making moonshine for the past two years to drink but he was told it was not illegal to make.
According to the incident report, Watts was advised by deputies that it was unlawful to manufacture, sell, give, or have in his possession a distillery or any part of a distillery or apparatus used for the purpose of manufacturing alcoholic liquors. When asked by deputies if there were any other stills, ingredients and/or product anywhere else on the premises, Watts stated that he had a couple more gallons of moonshine inside the other portion of the garage.
“He has been cooperative with law enforcement during this investigation,” according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “While the Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Agents main focus has been to concentrate on other illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, they will continue to address illegal alcohol complaints when they are received.”
Watts then took deputies to the detached garage where multiple assorted Ball Mason jars containing moonshine were stored, and agents observed assorted ingredients that are used in the making of moonshine as well as plastic tubs containing a large amount of mash.
According to the incident report, agents took the following items from the property due to the previous consent to search: one still, assorted ingredients, two half gallon Ball Mason jars containing moonshine, 19 quart Ball Mason jars containing moonshine, two pieces of copper tubing, 1 hydrometer, and one bucket containing corn.
Deputies value the amount of moonshine seized at around $1,000.