Those who watch Discovery's Moonshiners know Eric "Digger" Manes and Mark Ramsey are BFFs and business partners. And, as the title of the series suggests, their profession is making moonshine — which in case you didn't already know, happens to be illegal. Isn't it pretty much a guarantee that they'll get arrested?
Plenty of viewers have pointed out how bizarre it is for Digger and Mark to be starring in a show that features them breaking the law. Ever since the show started airing in 2011, people have wondered how the heck they weren't deliberately incriminating themselves by airing their illegal activities.
And lately, the question on everyone's mind seems to be: Did Digger get busted? Let's take a look at what he and Mark have said about the legality of moonshining — and whether the rumors are true.
Yes, making moonshine is illegal in Tennessee. So could Digger get busted?
Allow me to clarify: Plenty of legal distilleries distribute moonshine across the U.S. but making this liquor at home is illegal. Obviously though, that doesn't stop people from doing it anyway.
Digger learned the craft under the late legendary moonshiner Popcorn Sutton, and continues to practice the craft to this day. "It's authentic," Mark told WHSV TV in 2017. "What we do, we can't permit ourselves to be found by the law because it is very much against the law."
Apparently, Moonshiners typically begins filming in April when there are plenty of leaves on the trees — in order to help conceal the illegal distilling. "The fact of the matter is when it's on TV, it's already done," Mark told WHSV TV. "If police aren't involved in the recording process, they can't use that against us because they don't know that that's liquor coming out of the still."
It's worth noting that Digger and Mark work with a legal moonshine distilling company called Sugarland's Distilling Company, which is located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. However, they could still get busted for the moonshining they do outside of that at any time. "As for law enforcement, we don't know where we stand," Digger explained. "We wonder every day if this is the day they're going to knock on our door."
So why don't moonshiners get arrested, then?
As far as any official police reports or news outlets are concerned, there is no proof that Digger has ever been arrested in relation to moonshining. Because production of the moonshine happens deep in Appalachian woods — and Discovery airs Moonshiners months afterward — it's impossible for law enforcement to discern whether they're distilling illegal liquor. (And I mean, police are typically busy with more pressing issues anyway.)
Still, the moonshiners are careful.
Just because Digger and the other guys on Moonshiners haven't gotten caught yet doesn't mean others in the business haven't had run-ins with the law. In a scene from the series, Mike and Shot discussed that moonshiners in their area had recently been busted.
"There's been moonshine made down here ever since there's been people down here," Mike says in the clip. "Matter of fact, during prohibition, this was one of the favorite places for Al Capone to get his moonshine. They'll still put you in jail for it. I don't think we can be too careful."
"I don't think so either," Shot replies, to which Mike says, "There was another one just a while back got caught I heard about."
Well, there you have it: It doesn't seem Digger has been busted moonshining. At least not yet, that is. But that doesn't mean it won't ever happen — because what he's doing is very much illegal, after all.