BANNING — Police officers on a routine arrest discovered more than they were expecting when they followed their noses to another possible felony. On Saturday November 24 at approximately 4:49 PM, officers from the Banning Police Department arrived at 1176 W. King Street to serve a bench warrant for the arrest of a suspect who was in violation of his probation.
After entering the property, officers found the suspect in his attached garage. While placing James Jonathan Collins, a 47 year-old Banning resident, under arrest for the warrant, Officers smelled a strong odor coming from an enclosed portion of the garage. According to a police press release, “Further investigation discovered an active working Moonshine still.”
Home alcohol stills can be dangerous because liquids that are 50% alcohol by volume (100 proof) are flammable and moonshine can be as high as 190 proof. This can mean a volatile situation, especially during the distilling process when vaporized alcohol can accumulate. Alcohol in vaporized form can be particularly flammable. Based on this possibility, the Banning Police contacted the fire department. Once CAL Fire responded to the scene, they were able to render the still safe.
According to the State of California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) a still is “…any apparatus capable of being used for separating alcohol, or alcoholic vapors or solutions from alcohol or alcoholic solutions or mixtures …” and a license is required to manage an active still. Collins did not have a license. Once the still was dismantled and the illegal distillation of alcohol confirmed, additional Felony charges were filed against Collins.
Although the consumption of alcohol remains legal, home distillation or the distillation of “moonshine” is a felony. According to records Collins was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility for selling liquor without a license and possession of paraphernalia, and is being held in lieu of $2,500 bail.
Photos courtesy Banning Police
Banning-Beaumont Patch: Southern California Man Arrested for Making, Selling Moonshine Out of Banning Home
Press Enterprise: Man suspected of making his own moonshine