Login    Forum    Search    FAQ

Board index » Sri Lanka Society & Culture » Customs, Rituals & Traditions

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Moonshine & bootlegging in Sri Lanka
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 4:06 pm 
"Moonshine" & "bootlegging" in Sri Lanka

"Moonshining" is the making of liquor surreptitiously and illegally. The literal meaning of moonshine is the light of the moon, but because the activity of distilling unlawfully was usually done at night with as little light as possible, the word became both a verb, meaning making the liquor, and a noun, meaning the liquor that was made.

The reason it is done at night, and usually somewhere away from houses and buildings, is that the distillation process requires heat to boil the alcoholic liquor from the "mash," so it produces a considerable amount of smoke and steam, which can be visible for a great distance if it is done outdoors in the daytime. The fire can be seen at night if the still is not set up inside a building or somewhere hidden by rocks and/or trees, but buildings (and caves) are not considered as safe as outdoor locations, in case of a raid by the law enforcement authorities.

Some "shiners", as they are called, make a firebox out of stones or bricks, to keep the flames contained while concealing them, and to keep the still off the ground.

Selling moonshine or legally-made alcohol in an illegal manner is "bootlegging". One person may perform both functions. A U.S. synonym for moonshine is hooch.

Due to very high taxation of alcohol, moonshining continues to be a popular albeit illegal activity in various parts of Sri Lanka, especially in rural areas. Because of the huge price advantage of moonshine over its "legitimate" competition sold in licensed stores, moonshine commonly known as "Kassippu" is popular among the poor in Sri lanka. Traditionally, moonshiners sell by word-of-mouth, and on a local scale. People in search of moonshine have to look for it, and look in the right places. Once moonshiners start making on a larger scale, the means of delivering the product change somewhat. The liquor must travel further to get from the point of production to the consumer. This process usually involves driving the moonshine in a car or truck. Over the years, bootleggers devised a number of ways to try to avoid capture while transporting their liquor.

Once moonshine is sold the government misses out on the tax revenue it collects on legally distilled liquor. This battle to collect taxes, and the moonshiners determination to avoid paying them, is at the heart of much of the struggle between moonshiners and the law.

The simplicity of the process, and the easy availability of key ingredients such as sugar, make moonshining a easy and profitable task. However,

There are no health standards, no regulatory bodies, that govern the production of moonshine. For generations, moonshine has been made in home- made stills, hidden from sight. The forest, or a swamp, is often the easiest place to locate a still; those located closer to home can be found in barns, chicken coops, or buried underground.

Sloppily-produced moonshine can be contaminated with toxins, mainly from materials used in construction of the still. Despite the well-known hazards, it is claimed that stills constructed using car radiators for a condenser are still used. The lead used in soldering these radiators ends up in the moonshine, and in some cases, glycol products from antifreeze used in the radiator can appear as well. Both are poisonous.

Occasionally moonshine is deliberately mixed with industrial alcohol-containing products, including methanol and denatured alcohol. Results are toxic, with methanol easily capable of causing blindness and death.

Moonshiners often add some "extra" ingredients, either intentionally or accidently, in the process of distilling their liquor. Some of these include:
lye, rubbing alcohol, wood alcohol, paint thinner, bleach, formaldehyde
embalming fluid, chemical fertilizers, manure.

While the mash is fermenting in a still in the woods, it is not uncommon for insects and small animals to come and drink from the still. They can fall in and sink to the bottom of the mash.

Moonshine is very flammable and easily ignitable. This is especially true during the distilling process in which oxidized vaporized alcohol can accumulate in the air if there is not enough ventilation.

Moonshine turns killer

by Norman Palihawadane and Neminda Samarajeewa
@ The Island / 10Dec2005

Investigating the death of four persons, who consumed illicit hooch, at a den in Kekanadura, led the Matara police to discover that the brewer of poisonous moonshine had distributed it to several other places in the South, police said.

Following information obtained from a woman who distilled the illicit liquor and a businessman involved in its distribution, police raided several dens in Tihagoda, Thuduwa and Kekanadura and found ten cans of poisonous liquor yesterday. The distiller had told police that she used methyl spirit to brew the liquor.

The decesed had been identified as A Prematilake, M.B. Wilbert, B. Gunapala and Somaratne of the Mulatiyana area.

Matara ASP, D. Karunasena said that 16 other persons, who had consumed the poisonous brew, were admitted to Matara hospital, and their condition was serious.

Police said that among those being treated are an excise department officer and an army soldier.

"They got sick after consuming poisonous hooch. they complained of cramps and vomitting. Later, they could not breathe and were rushed to the hospital," ASP Karunasena said.

The post mortem on the four who died was to be held yesterday afternoon at the Matara hospital.

Police is conducting further raids to seize the remaining poisonous illicit liquor and have requested the public not to consume moonshine.

Liquor marketed as aphrodisiacs

Sunday Observer, May 02,2004

COLOMBO: Unlawfully Distilled Spirits (UDS), commonly known as Kassippu has been a flourishing business for illicit liquor manufacturers, who have made a fortune from it over the years. Despite heavy, penalties imposed by courts, illicit liquor manufacturers Kassippu Mudalalis have continued to thrive due to the profitability of the business. Relentless action by the Central Vice Squad. Panadura to rid the area of the illicit liquor menace during the past few years kept the Kassipu Mudalalis at bay. However, they used ingenuity to sell their stuff under various ruses.

The most common method was to sell their stuff under well-known brand names with labelling and bottling being done in secret. Another method of disposing the illicit stuff was to sell it to bars and restaurants in big cities. The same stuff was sold to unsuspecting customers as genuine liquor. Although many restaurants and bars in the Colombo City and suburbs have been periodically raided by Police and Excise Department officials, the racket goes on unabated. The other reason for the illicit liquor industry to thrive was due to the pervasiveness and ruthlessness of the underworld gangs.

The latest ploy they have adopted is to dispose large quantities of illicitly manufactured liquor in the open market by bottling them under different brands of aphrodisiacs. Colouring is added to the brew to deceive the public.

Last week, a team from the Ja-Ela Excise Station, headed by the OIC Excise, Inspector R.M. Ratnayake with Inspector Prasanna and Dissanayake and others raided an illicit liquor den at Alawathupitiya in the Ja-Ela area where they found three men distilling the deadly brew.

While searching the premises for other clues, the Excise men also found 3780 bottles of an aphrodisiac named "Maathroo-Sanjeevani". The stuff was found in 550 millilitre bottles packed inside 107 cardboard boxes. The total quantity of aphrodisiac found in the bottles was around 1310 litres and 750 millilitres. The main suspect had admitted that he was a teledrama actor by profession and was engaged in the manufacture of aphrodisiacs to supplement his income. Maathroo-Sanjeevani bottles bear attractive labels that suggest the product has curative powers for many sexual disorders and dysfunctions. A brownish colouring is added to make the brew look like a genuine decoction.

Maathroo-Sanjeevani is distributed in far away places like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and is freely available in boutiques. The retail price of a bottle is Rs. 80. The three suspects, when produced before the Kanuwana Magistrate, Kanthi Wanigasekera, pleaded guilty. The main suspect was fined Rs 100,000 by the Magistrate for manufacturing the aphrodisiac while the other two suspects were fined Rs.16,000 and Rs. 15,000 respectively for manufacturing UDS. According to Excise Department officers, the suspects have paid the fines.

A similar detection was made by the Police Narcotics Bureau sleuths when they raided a house in Pannipitiya. A large quantity of Cannabis sativa (Ganja) used for the manufacture of an aphrodisiac named Aswaganda -Madhanamodhakaya was found here. The aphrodisiac had been sold in distant places according to police. Five persons were arrested following the detection. The police also seized a machine used to manufacture the aphrodisiac.

Police Narcotics Bureau officials said the same manufacturer was taken into custody by the Police Special Task Force (STF) while transporting 10,000 kilograms of Cannabis Sativa from Wellawaya in the Moneragala district almost five years ago. A couple of years ago, the Police Central Vice Squad at Panadura seized 3700 bottles of moonshine sold as aphrodisiacs known as Muthrasanjeewani from boutiques and shops in Dambulla and Galewela areas. Two persons involved in the racket were taken into custody. "The strangest thing was that people never realised the decoction contained illicit liquor with colouring" police said.

 Post subject: Increased demand for hooch as liquor prices sky-rocket
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 17, 2005 4:41 pm 
Increased demand for hooch as liquor prices sky-rocket

By Shezna Shums
@ TML / 14DEC2005

The usual increase in liquor prices as a consequence of the budget, will result in a surge in the consumption of illicit brews, according to the Commissioner General of Excise, Parakrama Ekanayake. He said, this trend was likely especially since there is no difference in the cost of producing the illicit brews which are mainly made from sugar and toxic materials.

The illicit liquor tragedy last week in Matara resulted in the deaths of 14 people and hospitalisation of 82 at the Matara and Karapitiya Hospitals.

However Ekanayake stated that the national trend of brewing ilicit liquor is on the decrease owing to the stepped up raids carried out by the police as well as the Excise Department.

"During the last few months there have been more raids and the production of illicit brews is reducing," said Ekanayake.

Another factor discouraging illicit brewing is that of late Court penalties have been harsher, the fines for illicit brewing varying from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 500,000.

Since January till the end of November there has been a total 3500 raids carried out by the police and Excise Department, while in Matara alone there have been 875 raids on illegal brewers.

Last Sunday night the special unit of the Excise Department carried out a mass raid in the Ja-Ela area and took into custody a lorry, boat and 2800 bottles of illicit alcohol.

The woman involved in selling the illicit brew that caused the death of 14 people so far in Matara was arrested by the police during the week end.

She as well as some of her helpers had been arrested for brewing illicit liquor on several previous occasions.

According to Ekanayake the woman's husband had also died owing to consuming her brew a couple of years back.

In the present incident her brother too had died after consuming the deadly brew.

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 

Board index » Sri Lanka Society & Culture » Customs, Rituals & Traditions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: