Bootlegging Operation Busted In White County

SEARCY, AR -- A bootlegging operation is busted in White County, which is a dry county, and detectives say the list of people buying includes minors.

An anonymous tip led detectives to the Searcy home and loads of booze.

Undercover officers say they bought alcohol from a woman living at the home. A search warrant quickly followed and then the bust.

Chief Deputy Phillip Miller said, "This is one of the largest bootlegging busts we've done!"

Detectives say the woman behind the bootlegging business is Melinda Lyons-Marquez. They arrested her on Friday.

On the property, detectives found everything from homemade alcohol, to bottles of liquor and dozens of cases of beer.

Detectives say Marquez bonded out of jail, but no on answered the door at her home today.

However neighbors did. They call the bust shocking and told us they had no idea this was going on near their homes.

One woman said, "Well it upsets me and it scares me."

Carol Sheets told Fox 16 News, "Not very good, it's not very good at all and right across the street."

Along with taking the alcohol from the home on Johnston Road in Searcy, detectives also seized around $5000.

Chief Deputy Miller says some of that money came from minors. He says in White County, the average age for taking a first alcoholic drink is under 13 years old.

He said, "Anytime somebody says 'hey they're selling to kids, hey we think there's a lot of kids getting alcohol', we want that off the street."

Lyons-Marquez is charged with selling alcohol in a dry county without a permit. Detectives say more arrests are likely including the people who may have helped distribute the alcohol and those who bought it.

Deputies say they do not know how long the woman was in business. She's expected to make her first court appearance in December.

Once the case is completed, the alcohol will likely be destroyed.

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