Johnny Binkley was born and grew up in Chatham County, a rural county in central North Carolina. Growing up on a farm, he learned early on the necessity and value of hard work. After high school, he joined the army during the time of the Cuban Missile crisis.
After basic training in Georgia, he was stationed in Maryland at the Edgewood Arsenal and later in Utah at the Dugway Proving Grounds. After his three-year tour, he returned to North Carolina and attended Pembroke State University, and graduating in 1969 with a degree in Political Science. Immediately upon graduation, he went to work as a Special Investigator with the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division of the
Internal Revenue Service. He was fortunate to be stationed in North Carolina his entire twenty-five-year career — Raleigh (twice), Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro. He retired in October 1994 as the Resident Agent in Charge of the Greensboro field office.
After his retirement, he worked briefly for a security and consulting company in Raleigh, and later was self-employed as a contract investigator for several private firms and government agencies.
His wife of fifty-six years, Charlene, and he live in Raleigh with frequent trips to the beach at Emerald Isle. They have two grown children, John and Angie, and four grandchildren, Jensen (19), Reagan (16), Charlie (10), and Cate-Hill (8). His time now is pretty much spent around family and volunteering at his church. He gets together with a few of the “old revenuers” in the area for lunch about every week.
“Over the course of my career, I participated in numerous narcotics, rearms, explosives, searches, raids, and arrests, but none compare with the excitement and exhilaration of a still raid. You’ve laid out in the woods two or three days, and then early in the morning you hear the sound of an old truck … it stops in the still yard and you soon hear sounds and see movements in and about the still. As you give the still hands a few minutes to get settled in and go about their work, the excitement and anticipation build, and the adrenalin starts pumping as you slowly inch up closer to the still. Then you hear ‘Federal agent! You are under arrest!’ and all hell breaks loose—the chase is on!”
—ATF Agent Johnny Binkley