Police say man sold moonshine to undercover officer
In an area rich in history, authorities say the tradition of moonshining still remains.
Rickey Lynn McKinney, 56, 945 Simerly Creek Road, Hampton, was arrested early Wednesday morning by Carter County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Amanda Little on a warrant charging him with the sale of untaxed liquor.
According to the warrant for McKinney’s arrest, an investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department Special Operations Unit was started on Dec. 31, 2013, after receiving information that “illegal untaxed whiskey” was being sold out of the parking lot of a local manufacturing facility.
Investigation of the initial report led to the case being assigned to the Special Operations Unit for a possible undercover operation. In March 2014, surveillance was conducted at McKinney’s residence and officers were able to obtain a phone number for him.
“On March 18, 2014, I made a call to McKinney and left a message saying I just moved here from Montana and was interested in ‘special mountain water’ (untaxed whiskey, AKA moonshine), but that I did not have a phone yet,” says the warrant obtained by the undercover officer. “On March 24, 2014, I called McKinney and left another message and my phone number and again on March 26, 2014. On March 27, 2014, McKinney agreed to meet me and sell the whiskey.”
The undercover officer said in the warrant that the meeting was originally set to occur in the parking lot of Hampton High School, but that after arriving there McKinney wanted to move locations because of high traffic in the area. McKinney then drove to the Rat Branch boat dock at Watauga Lake with the undercover officer following him. Another officer also followed the two.
After arriving at the boat dock, the undercover officer reported walking to McKinney’s truck and standing in the open door. “McKinney then reached across the inside of his truck and handed me a clear gallon jug about one-third to one-half full of clear alcoholic liquid,” the undercover officer said in the warrant. “I asked him how much did I owe him and he said $30 would be fine. I handed him two 20 dollar bills and he said he didn’t have change and handed me back one of the 20s. I told him I’d give him more next time.”
According to the warrant, after the purchase was complete, the liquid obtained from McKinney was placed into evidence.