'Illegal alcohol establishment' busted in Lawrence County

Updated: Jul. 9, 2018 at 11:33 PM CDT
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(Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office reports that a search warrant on an illegal alcohol establishment north of Town Creek has resulted in two arrests and the seizure of a large quantity of illegal alcoholic beverages, marijuana, firearms and several items used to operate the illegal alcohol establishment.

Sheriff Gene Mitchell said agents with the drug task force arrested Benjamin Howlet Jr., 26, and Eric Leon Sanders, 33, both of Town Creek, Howlet was charged with possession of marijuana, illegal possession of prohibited liquor for resale, and attempting to elude. Sanders was charged with escape, illegal possession of prohibited liquor for resale, and attempting to elude.

Mitchell said the arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation.

"During the investigation, agents received several complaints about Howlet and Sanders operating an illegal alcohol establishment known as the 'YKN Lounge'," Mitchell said in a news release.

Mitchell said agents learned Howlet and Sanders had been advertising the days of the week in which the "YKN Lounge" would be operating, and during one of the advertisements, Howlet and Sanders were promoting exotic dancers being at the lounge, along with the prices of alcoholic beverages being sold.

During the investigation of the illegal activities occurring at the establishment, Mitchell said agents learned along with the illegal alcohol sales occurring, illegal narcotics were being consumed while the lounge was being operated.

Mitchell said agents were able to obtain a valid search warrant for the illegal alcohol establishment. Agents, along with assistance of investigators and deputies, agents with the Morgan County Drug task Force, agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and officers with Town Police Department executed the search warrant on the lounge as it was opening for business.

During the course of executing the search warrant, Mitchell said Howlet and Sanders tried to run out the rear door of the establishment. Sanders was taken into custody while doing so, and Howlet was taken into custody after a short foot chase.

After Howlet was taken into custody, officers with Town Creek located a quantity of marijuana he was concealing, according to the sheriff's office.

Mitchell said Sanders attempted to escape from custody while handcuffed was taken back into custody after a short foot chase.

Mitchell said they found a large quantity of alcoholic beverages ranging from several different types and brands of liquor and beer, along with two different firearms being used as protection for the establishment placed behind the bar area, a large entertainment system being used to provide music and videos, and two gas powered generators being used to provide electricity for the establishment.

Mitchell said Howlet and Sanders had converted a single wide mobile home into the illegal alcohol establishment. The mobile home had been converted into an open space with a bar set up which allowed customers to purchase alcoholic beverages while visiting the establishment. The open space inside the mobile home allowed customers to be entertained by exotic dancers. Mitchell said a rear bedroom area of the mobile home had been converted into a gambling room with a poker table.

After completing their investigation, agents arrested Howlet and Sanders. They have both been released on bond.

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