A Southern California man was locked up in a local jail Sunday-- suspected of brewing and selling the illegal liquor moonshine out of his house.
James Jonathan Collins, 47, was nabbed by the Banning Police Department on Saturday when they went to his home to serve a bench warrant for a violation of probation charge and got a whiff of a unique smell, according to police and court records.
"While placing Collins under arrest for the warrant, Officers smelled a strong odor coming from an enclosed portion of the garage," a press release from the police department says. "Further investigation discovered an active working Moonshine still."
Banning Police Chief Leonard Purvis tells Banning-Beaumont Patch this is something his department has never come across, at least not under his watch the last seven years.
"It was just very surprising; we haven’t come across this; at least I’ve never come across something like this in my career,” Purvis told Patch.
Made famous during the Prohibition Era of the United States, moonshine is often made with relatively few ingredients, and is highly flammable-- something of particular concern to the local authorities.
"What my main concern is, is the possible negative effects that could have taken place," Purvis said. "...the threat to the people in that location and to the neighbors, as well depending on how much is being stored, and the flammability.”
CalFire did respond to the location King Street, near West Wilson and 8th Streets, when the still was found, and "rendered [it] safe," the press release added.
As of the publication of this article, police were still investigating several things, including how many people may have been involved in this operation and how long it had been going on, Purvis said.
Jail booking records indicate that Collins was booked on charges of selling liquor without a license, and possession of paraphernalia. He was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, and was being held in lieu of $2,500 bail.
According to court records, Collins was on probation for June 2012 convictions of possession of stolen property and possession of controlled substances.
CalFire crews dismantled the moonshine still, according to police reports.