What Was North Dakota’s Forgotten Criminal Enterprise?
Prior to the federal prohibition, which started in 1920, North Dakota passed its own ban in 1889. When North Dakota became a state in 1889, it was a "dry" state. This indicated that the state forbade the production, distribution, and transportation of alcohol.
According to A Life Explored Is Never Dull, many people in North Dakota produced and sold alcohol illegally during the prohibition. For instance, FBI agents stumbled onto one of the biggest illicit bootlegging operations in the nation in 1932, right here in North Dakota. To stop the production and distribution, millions of gallons of illegal alcohol were dumped out.
Historians claim that Al Capone had a sophisticated liquor smuggling ring in Minot, using not just these hand-dug tunnels for the transportation of alcohol but also tunnels constructed between buildings for heating or deliveries.
Rumors had always been circulating about how Minot's rum runners and bootleggers would move their goods without being discovered. Following the 2011 flood, everyone learned how.
In order to avoid the authorities and keep the alcohol flowing, North Dakotans collaborated to run illegal alcohol throughout the state. For the purpose of alerting smugglers to the presence of authorities, lights were left on in the upstairs of farmhouses situated near roadways. This strategy kept the liquor flowing and the smugglers out of jail in the area.
The most recent nationwide data shows that the alcoholic beverages market size was valued at $1.9 trillion (with a T) in 2021. The market was projected to grow to $2.1 trillion in 2022 and all the way up to $4.1 trillion by 2029.
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