Monday, October 13, 2008

Bootleggers spread havoc on the Alaskan tundra

In much of rural Alaska the sale of alcohol is illegal. Many of these places are dominated by native people whose culture did not include alcohol until whites brought it. (Angel Franco photo of liquor being taken from a plane)

Dan Barry of The New York Times writes from the town of Bethel, "Many rural Alaskan communities consider alcohol to be the primary accelerant for crime, domestic strife and other social problems, and either ban it outright or, as in Bethel, tightly restrict its use."

As in rural areas of the Lower 48, restrictions on the sale of alcohol have led to bootlegging in the Alaskan tundra. "A fifth of R&R — which stands for Rich & Rare, a highbrow name for a bottom-shelf blend — sells for $10 or so in Anchorage," adds Berry. "But that same bottle can sell for as much as $300 in a dry village in the tundra, making R&R the bootlegger’s current alcohol of choice and the trooper’s alcohol of interest. . . . A case of bootleg whiskey in a small Alaska village of 600 people can shut down that village for a week.”(Read more)

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