Old moonshiner and son busted for dope smuggling

The gentleman below at the far left is Paul Faulkner, 83, a former alcohol bootlegger who was recently busted along with members of his family for running a drug smuggling ring in north Georgia. His son Michael Smith, also below, ran the show. From CNN:
 Cnn 2009 Crime 05 21 Drugs.Rural.America Art.Split.Gbi-1 Faulkner, who is suffering from cancer, was handed a 20-year sentence last month and is to head to prison in August. "Twenty years, that is a death sentence," said Giles Jones, Faulkner's attorney, adding that he has appealed the sentence.

He said Faulkner was a "full-time mountain shiner" who could talk moonshine until he was "blue in the face," but knew little about the Mexican marijuana operation. Jones said the old man's son "threw his ass under the bus" to save himself.

"It's a situation where I guess you're just looking out for yourself. It's every day as every day, man," said Jones.

Not so fast, said Cathy Alterman, the defense attorney for Smith, Faulkner's son.

"Michael didn't throw his father under the bus. His father threw Michael down the drain when he was 16 years old," Alterman said. "If the father got a longer sentence, it's because he's a lousy father. ... He was never there for his son, except to be a bad example."
"Moonshine to Mexican marijuana: Family gets busted"


  1. someone has GOT TO write the ballad… hillbilly blues? Or defile Thunder Road maybe? Lyrics?

    Oh, daddy ran the shine…

  2. “Cooks that crystal meth
    because the ‘shine don’t sell
    you know he like’s the money
    he don’t mind the smell”

    From the song “Chocktaw Bingo” by James McMurtry.

  3. The first Steve Earle song I heard was “Copperhead Road” which is exactly about this situation:

  4. I’m amazed that anyone can even make a profit selling moonshine since the end of alcohol prohibition. I can get a bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s for two bucks, and if I’m not picky I can buy a jug of spirits from the liquor mart for a few dollars more. What’s the profit margin on a quart of homemade hillbilly juice?

  5. Many counties in Georgia are still dry counties. And besides, why buy The Man’s alcohol when you can make your own, and sell it without the revenuers skimming their take?

  6. @#6

    It’d take a lot of 2 Buck Chuck to get you as drunk as a jar or moonshine could get you (you’d be looking at at least 150 proof).

  7. @ Akbar56:

    One of Wikipedia’s definitions of “dope”:

    “Cannabis, cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, depending on region and time-period”

    It’s not a “fallacy,” it’s a different use of a slang term than the one you favor.

  8. thanks Gmoke!

    “Well my name’s John Lee Pettimore
    Same as my daddy and his daddy before
    You hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here
    He only came to town about twice a year
    He’d buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line
    Everybody knew that he made moonshine
    Now the revenue man wanted Grandaddy bad
    He headed up the holler with everything he had
    It’s before my time but I’ve been told
    He never came back from Copperhead Road

    Now Daddy ran the whiskey in a big block Dodge
    Bought it at an auction at the Mason’s Lodge
    Johnson County Sheriff painted on the side
    Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside
    Well him and my uncle tore that engine down
    I still remember that rumblin’ sound
    Well the sheriff came around in the middle of the night
    Heard mama cryin’, knew something wasn’t right
    He was headed down to Knoxville with the weekly load
    You could smell the whiskey burnin’ down Copperhead Road

    I volunteered for the Army on my birthday
    They draft the white trash first,’round here anyway
    I done two tours of duty in Vietnam
    And I came home with a brand new plan
    I take the seed from Colombia and Mexico
    I plant it up the holler down Copperhead Road
    Well the D.E.A.’s got a chopper in the air
    I wake up screaming like I’m back over there
    I learned a thing or two from ol’ Charlie don’t you know
    You better stay away from Copperhead Road

    Copperhead Road
    Copperhead Road
    Copperhead Road

  9. Death Sentence Range Table (Fig. 1)


    23_________70 yrs__________N
    53_________40 yrs__________N
    83_________20 yrs__________Y
    93_________10 yrs__________Y
    103________1 day___________Y

    Get busted young to avoid death sentences. Simple!

  10. @ 0xdeadbeef #8:

    And besides, why buy The Man’s alcohol when you can make your own, and sell it without the revenuers skimming their take?

    The same reasons I don’t refine my own gasoline. The trouble and the risk just don’t make sense for something that sells for less than three bucks a gallon.

    Or course, if I fucked up my car with homemade gas I could always buy another one.

  11. @brainspore


    I guess that’s the thing. I didn’t think anyone called it that anymore. And those who did “back in the day” where usually confused as to what it meant.

    Calling it “dope” gives it a very negative connotation.

  12. Perhaps I am missing something here.

    When did any of this “bad family” actually HARM another person??!!??

    Ohhh. Thats right, we live in bizarro-land where plants are eval and wikkid in their own right. Lucky for them they aren’t getting burned at the stake!

    In my home town a man was just released after 364 days of time served. His victim and police accused him of repeated raping a woman and trying to murder her. They had the bloody knife, they had the hospital report, she eventually managed to free herself from his inprisonment to run naked through fields of sagebrush. Not even a felony… less than 1/20th as bad as this eval dealer for plants???

    This country is so incredibly fucked!

  13. @ Akbar56:

    You acknowledged yourself that people still use the term that way when you said “why is this fallacy still present?” Dope = catchall phrase for drugs. Just accept it.

    I do agree that calling weed “dope” has a negative connotation but that’s really beside the point. What drugs we decide to classify as “bad” is pretty arbitrary anyway.

  14. Any major news outlet should use the proper word, not the street slang of their choosing. It should be called “cannabis” when it is cannabis, “heroin” when it his heroin.

    Pot and Marijuana are also unacceptable and by all accounts pejorative.

  15. Just because some ignorant people who like to lump all drugs into one evil category and call it “dope” I should just accept it?

    Sorry. I am not gonna bend over for your way of thought control. No thanks.

  16. I like the line

    “If the father got a longer sentence, it’s because he’s a lousy father. … He was never there for his son, except to be a bad example.”

    All people should have their sentence time based on how good of a son/parent they were/are, whichever is worse.


  17. The best weed is grown by old men in West Virginia. It’s just as illegal for them to grow tobacco for sale as it is to grow pot for sale, and pot has a better profit margin, so, well, duh.

    The W.Va small tobacco farmers had their livelihood yanked out from under them by the US Federal Government when the tobacco barons bribed congress and various state legislatures to monopolize commercial tobacco production many many decades ago. Don’t see that on wikipedia, do you?

    Ask some old guy in Wild Wooly Wonderful West Virginia about it. If you’re lucky, you might find some ancient codger who remembers his daddy fighting the US Government in the post-WWI West Virginia Coal Wars.

    What, nobody taught you this stuff in school? How ’bout that! What else don’t you know about?

  18. @ Akbar 56:

    Even the Urban Dictionary link you posted acknowledges that “dope” is widely used as a slang term for marijuana. Did you even read the first two definitions in your own link?

    I’m not saying that YOU have to use the term that way, I’m just pointing out that it’s silly to say someone else is “fallacious” for doing so.

  19. just kill the word already. Pick something cheap, legal and ubiquitous, conduct a relentless campaign aimed at youth to call it “dope” and in a few years all other meanings will be forgotten. Chewing gum say. Have a few TV shows and popular songs (a movie or two) refer to gum as dope and then just sit back.

  20. already exists as adjective, have to appropriate as noun. Either that or run a bunch of ads showing Shoe Boy using the word in attempt to sound “hep”.

  21. @brainspore

    Mght wnt t try sm bsc rdng cmprhnsn. Try my lnk t rbn dctnry gn.

    ntry n: th ncrrct sg f th wrd (k by ppl wh dn’t knw wht thr tlkng bt)vs th crrct sg.

    Entry two: non descript drug reference

    Entry three: Heroin

    Entry four: Heroin

    Entry five: Heroin

    Entry six: slang for “cool”

    Entry seven: Heroin

    Th fllcy m pttng frth s tht Cnnbs s nt dp. gn, gnrnt fls wh d nt knw wht thy r tlkng bt sng th wrd ds nt mk t tr.

  22. It’s amazing to me that someone can insist that a slang word that people use to mean X does not “actually” mean X and apparently not feel ridiculous doing so.

  23. @ Akbar 56:

    Christ, you’re persistent. Excerpted from your linked page:

    Entry 1: “People who do not do drugs call Marajuanna Dope.” (Thus, the term fits this definition depending on whether the article writer is a user).

    Entry 2: “noun a drug”

    Also, I’m not inclined to accept a bunch of dumbasses who can’t even even spell “heroin” correctly as the linguistic authorities on the subject.

    Virtually every dictionary in the English language including many of the entries in the urban dictionary acknowledge that “dope” is commonly used as a slang term for drugs including marijuana. You can argue all you want but it will be about as effective as screaming that “cool” just refers to temperature.

    Peace out.

  24. 1946 (also WW II): Got any dope? (Dope=info, as in “inside dope”)
    1958: Dope =airplane glue (glue-sniffing JD’s)

    Dope used for marijuana by cops and authorities: thus marijuana = airplane glue.

    A negative term, for a negative connotation.

    Get it straight, you straights….

  25. of course, neither of these people did anything worthy of calling a crime. They should be released immediately. The crime is destroying people’s lives for having a little plant matter or helping others get some plant.

  26. I am not gonna bend over for your way of thought control.

    (Coughs nervously and slowly backs away.)

  27. I used to hear people say ‘smoking dope’ a lot back in the 70’s and early 80’s. It was ‘herb’ in the 90’s and I didn’t start hearing ‘weed’ until 2000’s. Also recently heard a college student call it ‘chronic’. My favorite one though is ‘chiefing a doob.’ that cracks me up.

    I live in an area where a lot of people try indoor growing, but also read about a lot of people getting busted for it. I also live near the town where ‘moonshinin’ was popular and ‘nascar’ got its start. My boyfriend in highschool had a grandpa who had done time for illegal manuf. of alcohol and when he got out from that started selling ‘pot’….he didn’t smoke it but that’s what he called it. Also he called it ‘wacky backy’.

  28. The city where I live in Ky is the first 15 or so miles out of 135 (2+ hours) of a dry stretch (til Knoxville, Tn). I only have a ten minute country road drive to buy my booze, but imagine the environment an hour south. In those parts of the country I imagine moon shining might still be pretty prevalent.

  29. I prefer the old term “reefer” : even back in the seventies I’d get remarks about how obsolete that term was!
    I like that word because it pre-dates the US prohibition. But I don’t know if it does the Canadian prohibition – which started IIRC in 1921.


    Seems the Prez also uses the term:

  30. And a song from the days of prohibition of alcohol:

    Have you ever met that funny reefer man?

  31. Hmmm Tak : I have seen better-looking reefers.

    As to the Cab Calloway song I linked to immediately above, it says here that it was the Number One “Hit” of 1933!

    As Homer Simpson said: “That saxophone would make a great pipe!”

  32. the irony is not one of Cab’s musicans could have been high since the band is so tight.

  33. music is discipline and time. While smoking a doobie might inspire new composition, it is no friend of time. I can’t play a damn thing, but I know that really playing must be pure. There may be degrees of tolerance, but a Muse must be served exclusively. Any who make their life from music wish to comment?

  34. Round here we had something to talk about recently, a famous old local moonshiner, after a lifetime of making the good stuff, was sentenced to 18 months in jail. He died at home before they could take him in. Folks I talk to says it’s a real shame that they had to go and do that to that poor old man. Link

    As for why moonshine would be a profitable business when “you can get it at Trader Joes,” in Western North Carolina there’s many counties that to this day are dry. Not as bad as it used to be, but still. And the only legal place to buy anything stronger than wine is a government run store, that closes early. And you know they tax the hell out of that, and you can’t buy local, either.

    The current weed laws turn many a character against the law, just like their pappies before em.

    Stupid laws.

  35. Everybody’s different, Tak: we all do not respond in the same way to things.
    Particularly so, when it comes to physical sensitivities (and psycho-biophysical reaction) to organic molecules (of all kinds).
    With reefer, the variety of types and strains, and people’s individually unique reactions to those, render generalizations as to how this substance may affect any particular user very difficult to predict or characterize.
    Perhaps not as “individual” in action and effects as for eg. mescalin, LSD or psilocybin mushrooms: yet marijuana (and its processed derivatives) are still psychedelics, with all that that implies as to individuality of response.
    One size does not fit all: in fact, there is no “one size” at all, in this case.

  36. Tak,
    I work in music and theatre. I see moderate use of pot and booze all the time before shows. I also see HEAVY use after! It’s not everyone, just some. I’ve seen some play the same thing in rehearsal(pre drink) and then for a show with real difference. If any thing, it calms their nerves. Also some drink onstage.

    It’s not called a Green Room for nothing! : )

  37. I need to proof read. I meant NO real difference! No better, no worse.

    But yes…moderation. Moderation is good.

  38. Hold an empty lunch sack open. Squirt some airplane glue into the bottom of the bag. Krinkle the top of the bag so there’s just a hole, smaller than an inch (use your thumb), and suck the air out of the bag. Then blow into the bag to inflate it. Then suck the air out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
    You’re dizzy, woozy, your ears are ringing, your vision may be double or blurry, and everything is wow_wow_wow_wow and things are funny, and you laugh til tears run down your face. Then you get paranoid. Somebody saw- somebody knows!
    You’ve been huffing dope. You dirty doper.
    Your lungs feel like there’s icky goo in them, and brain cells are dying like it’s a bubonic plague.

    There. I did it so you kids don’t have to.
    You don’t want to grow up to be like me, do ya?

  39. Why would someone make shine? Is it profitable?

    Around here, in the hills of NE Tennessee, we are not in any kind of dry county or anything like that and still there is a ton of shine.

    Because store bought liquor is so cheap, the only reason people would make or drink it around here is that they like the taste. There is no rot-gut going around here. The typical quart mason jar costs around $20 (about twice the cost of the foulest bottom shelf liquor store stuff) and is as smooth as water and twict as clear. It is usually produced by artisains who have been refining their family formulas for generations. As far as I can tell, there are no unaged, clear corn spirits available at any price in our liquor stores.

    When visitors from far away come, one of the things they always want to do is drink some local shine. To many yankees and other ferners, shine is somewhat like a unicorn….everyone knows what one is but they don’t really believe it exists. It is funny to watch them take that first drought, they brace for it, lean into it like it is going to bite back, and then are pleasantly surprised at how smooth and delicious that the good stuff can be.
    Whenever I have shown up at a party (which had a wide selection of potables) with a quart or two of shine, it was always the first thing to go, people don’t only like the taste, but the mystique as well. They all want a good moonshine story.

    The comments about it being 150 proof are also way off base. Most shine is on the strong side of the proofs of other kinds of whiskey – in the 80 to 100 proof range. Still strong enough to burn with a clear blue flame.

    We used to sometimes take a case or two to Chicago when I was doing some work there and it was the most prized contraband in all of gangland – we could never bring enough and they would sell it for 40-50 dollars/jar. All the old timers would take a swaller and reminisce about how good life was back in the day and how thy missed that taste.


  40. Illegal alcohol production and counterfeiting is alive and well in Canada where the price of alcohol ismuch higher…

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