Bethel, Alaska (KINY) Alaska State Officials frown on the sale of alcohol without a proper license.
18 cab drivers in Bethel face charges for illegally selling alcohol to residents without a license. Bethel voters lifted a decades long ban on alcohol sales several years ago but the only liquor store in town closes by 7 pm. Locals use the words subsistence bootlegging to justify the trade. Several nearby villages have banned the sale of liquor outright due to the social problems it causes.
Alaska State Troopers say they were able to make about 50 under cover buys in their investigation. The hard liquor was sold for up to $60 per bottle. The 18 suspects pled not guilty at arraignment Wednesday to a charge of selling alcohol without a license.
Taxi's are very common in Bethel. They come from South Korea and Eastern Europe. It is difficult to bring in vehicles to the remote community and many residents use the cabs to shop, see doctors or do other activities.
Officials said a language barrier with some of the cab drivers might have contributed to the problem of illegal liquor sales.