Weeks after two hub cities in rural Alaska voted to remove bans on local liquor sales, the state is launching a campaign warning bootleggers they face big fines and mandatory jail time if caught.
Even if they're only smuggling one bottle. Even if it's their first offense.
The effort is about spreading word of tough penalties the Legislature enacted in 2008 rather than reacting to recent votes to lift liquor prohibitions in Bethel and Kotzebue, said Assistant Attorney General Robin Koutchak. Some rural leaders have told prosecutors they were caught unaware of the strict new rules.
"They wished that the state had made more of an effort to notify people that if you were busted for bootlegging, even one bottle, that you would be going to jail," she said.
Koutchak estimates at least 300 people have been convicted under the new bootlegging penalties, which were part of an omnibus crime bill that also included stiffer punishment for sex offenders and child pornography offenses. It became law in July last year.
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