Skip to Content
Everything Else

Oklahoma law enforcement agents use drone to bust moonshiners

9:26 AM EDT on May 3, 2019

Eagletown, Oklahoma is a small, unincorporated community in the southeast past of the state known for its eclectic array of historical markers, a deadly gun fight over a beer in 1992, and being too close to the Arkansas border for comfort.

At first glance this sleepy city of 528 citizens doesn’t appear to have had a lot going on since the first Bush was still in office. But little did we lay people know of the battle going on right under our noses between Oklahoma law enforcement officers armed with state-of-the-art technology and some guy who apparently uses deer antlers as a garment rack.


EAGLETOWN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma alcohol regulators used modern technology in a recent investigation of an old-school illicit job: moonshining.

The Oklahoman reports agents with Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission and the McCurtain County sheriff's deputies busted a moonshine operation in Eagleton. Authorities say a man turned himself in Monday on a felony charge of operating a whiskey still without a distiller's license.

ABLE Special Agent-in-charge Joe Daniels says the investigation started with a tip that an Eagleton-area convenience store was selling moonshine. Daniels said agents flew a drone over some nearby wooded property, where they spotted the illegal operation.

According to KFOR, Gary Branson was arrested for supposedly distilling moonshine without a license after allegedly selling his brew to a nearby convenience store. The agents uncovered the operation with use of their high-tech drones and hardened detective experience that told them anyone who owns more than two dozen mason jars is either bottling moonshine or running a failing Etsy store. But all joking aside moonshine is a dangerous concoction that may contain lead and methanol, which can lead to blindness and death, respectively. If so many Oklahomans are turning to bootlegging to make ends meet that law enforcement have to invest in investigative drones to handle the mess, times must be getting pretty hard then, right?

Daniels says the Discovery Channel TV show "Moonshiners" has sparked a resurgence of the illegal enterprise. Prior to that show's debut in 2011, Daniels says ABLE typically made one moonshine bust a year. In 2012, there were eight.

So maybe times aren’t as tough as it is to find something good to watch on the TV. So out of the hundreds of channels to choose from, Oklahomans are taking inspiration for their lives’ choices from a show that fakes the criminal activity it’s supposedly “documenting.” Come on, if you’re going to take life advice from a television show, try tuning in to something like Joel Osteen on TBN. Tithing weekly to Joel will probably bring you just as much wealth as moonshining, but at least you won’t go blind because of it.

Hayley doesn't tithe or moonshine. Follow her on twitter @squirrellygeek

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for clicking!

Please provide your email address to continue reading.

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter