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In the summer of 1964 law enforcement agents staged the biggest liquor raid ever in Gaston and Cleveland counties, cracking down on illegal selling of alcohol. Over 100 men and women between 16 and 74 years of age were charged with violating liquor laws and hauled to police stations. At one house police found a 750-gallon tank suspended in the attic with a pipe running down to the kitchen to which a spigot was attached. Officers also found white liquor in gallon jars and made arrests. Nothing was found at Gastonia’s Havana Club or Uganda Club but whiskey and beer were discovered at the La Cabana, the Collegiate and the Negro American Legion Club. The Moose Lodge was raided too -- and more than liquor was found. Read more below:
June 26, 1964
Massive Liquor Raid Staged in 2 Counties
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More Than 125 Are Arrested
Gaston, Cleveland Haul Biggest Ever
By Claudia Howe, Observer Gastonia Bureau
GASTONIA -- More than 100 policemen from five law-enforcement agencies launched raids Thursday in Cleveland and Gaston counties in what police are calling the area’s biggest crackdown ever on illegal liquor.
More than 125 arrest had been made by early evening out of a total of 200 warrants. The raids also uncovered gambling operations.
The most successful strike was made by N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control agents, who found an estimated $20,000 worth of tax-paid liquor in a barn just across the Gaston County line in Cleveland County.
Most of the huge liquor cache had been purchased in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, while a small quantity had been bought in Mecklenburg County, according to J.C. Saunders, general superintendent of the ABC undercover force.
The liquor was found on the property of David B. Smith. The liquor was not owned by Smith, however, according to Saunders. Saunders said his agents had been investigating the case for six weeks and would make an arrest.
Raids in Gaston County climaxed seven weeks of work by ABC undercover agents who had canvassed the county buying liquor in homes and clubs.
Gastonia city police, Gaston County rural police, ABC agents, U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division officers and State Bureau of Investigation agents launched the raids in Gaston County simultaneously at 3:30 p.m.
The policemen, who used 75 marked and unmarked cars, were split into four- and five-man teams. They spent several hours searching houses and clubs and making arrests.
They found large quantities of beer, white lightning and other liquor. Four slot machines and a large number of tip boards were confiscated at the Gastonia Moose Lodge, just outside the city limits.
Several hours later the policemen, many of them perspiring in the warm afternoon sun, were still stacking up liquor along the walls of the Rural Police Department and in the basement of City Hall.