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Searching for Smuggled Hooch

U. S. Customs and Drug Enforcement Agency officials are kept busy these days searching for
smuggled illegal drugs. Traffickers have hidden drugs in everything from shipping crates to
coat-linings to themselves! In the days of Prohibition, alcohol was the smugglers' stock in
trade. Nebraska law enforcement officers cooperated with federal agents to stop the illegal
flow of booze. But they didn't always meet with success, as this 1923 case from Neligh

"Sheriff Sutton had visions of something doing when he received a telegram a couple of
weeks ago from the collector of customs at Appalachacola, Florida, to search a car shipped
from there, consigned to George W. Birrell, and according to the bill of loading containing
oyster shells, but which the collector suspicioned also contained a consignment of smuggled

"Sheriff Sutton served notice on Agent Fleming of the North Western railroad company not
to permit the seal of the car to be broken except in his presence, with which Mr. Fleming
complied. Sutton waited patiently day after day, and when the car at last arrived attached to
the way bill was instructions to deliver the car to the Neligh Mills.

"Sheriff Sutton was on hand when the seal was broken and stood watch while the oyster
shells were all unloaded, while an expectant crowd of watchers stood around and moistened
their lips in hopes of a discovery of some real honest-to-goodness liquor, but it was love's
labor lost, for when it was at last all unloaded nothing was found except oyster shells which
the mill company uses in the manufacture of its chick and poultry foods.

"Evidently the customs officials are suspicious of every car shipped out of Florida, that
paradise of the runner of smuggled booze, and trail up every car."


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Last updated 14 September 2005

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