Drug-Paraphernalia Traffickers Out of Business

Drug-Paraphernalia Traffickers Out of Business
Posted by CN Staff on February 24, 2003 at 21:39:46 PT
By  Eric Lichtlau
Source: New York Times
 Federal officials said today that they had shut down the biggest drug-paraphernalia suppliers in the United States in a series of nationwide raids. In all, charges were brought against 55 people who prosecutors said had trafficked in everything from lipstick-shaped marijuana pipes to gas masks that can double as bongs.Drug paraphernalia, once the province of neighborhood "head shops," has exploded into a billion-dollar industry in which suppliers use the Internet to sell their wares with little fear of prosecution, the officials said.
They said the raids announced today had resulted in the seizure of thousands of tons of such products, some of which are used by traffickers to help produce drugs for resale, others by users to conceal drugs. The seized items included drug pipes hidden in school highlighters, soft-drink cans and lipstick cases, officials said.The 55 people charged, most in Pennsylvania and California, were named in nearly three dozen indictments spanning the country. Most of the defendants have been taken into custody, though the authorities are searching for a few.The authorities also said they were shutting down 11 Web sites with names like "" that they said had been used to sell paraphernalia. Any people trying to use such a site today, officials said, were supposed to be forwarded to a Drug Enforcement Administration site informing them that the paraphernalia dealer was out of business. But most of those sites were still up and running hours after the indictments.Federal law makes it a crime to sell drug paraphernalia, which is defined as any product "primarily intended or designed" to aid in the manufacturing, concealing or ingesting of a controlled substance. Marijuana pipes, roach clips, cocaine freebase kits, miniature scales and tools for cutting or diluting raw drugs are all considered banned, officials said.Though the crime has rarely attracted the interest of law enforcement officials in the past, Attorney General John Ashcroft said today that the Justice Department had decided to open a multiagency undercover operation after a recent case in Pittsburgh pointed to the depth of the problem.Some groups critical of the Bush administration's drug policies questioned whether at a time of heightened national security concerns, the department was wasting its resources on a fairly obscure corner of the drug-trafficking industry. But Mr. Ashcroft, joined at a news conference by officials from the D.E.A. and the White House, said the ease with which young people could get their hands on paraphernalia was a growing concern to him and others in the administration."This is a federal case," the attorney general said, "because it's against the federal law."Mary Beth Buchanan, the United States attorney for western Pennsylvania, whose office led part of the investigation, said that raids around the country had netted "thousands and thousands of tons" of paraphernalia and that investigators were still working to catalog the seizures. Some of the raided businesses manufactured the paraphernalia themselves, using glass-blowing facilities and kilns at warehouses, she said.Revenue for suppliers named in the indictments reached as high as $50 million a year each, Ms. Buchanan said. With the raids, she added, prosecutors believe they have put all the major paraphernalia suppliers in the United States out of business.Those charged face up to three years in prison if convicted, along with fines of up to $250,000. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York group that favors liberalizing drug laws and legalizing marijuana, saw the indictments as part of a broader effort by the Bush administration to crack down on marijuana, even for medicinal purposes."It's a wasteful and tragic use of resources," Mr. Nadelmann said.One law enforcement specialist, Eric E. Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in Silver Spring, Md., also questioned why top law enforcement officials were spending time dealing with drug paraphernalia. Moreover, he said, the crackdown could do unintended damage to public health."Sweeps like this are very likely to intimidate people who provide sterile needles as a much-approved public health measure," Mr. Sterling said. "They'll be afraid to be mistaken for illegal purveyors of paraphernalia."Complete Title: Raids Put Drug-Paraphernalia Traffickers Out of BusinessSource: New York Times (NY)Author: Eric LichtlauPublished: February 25, 2003 Copyright: 2003 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters Website: Articles & Web Sites:Drug Policy Alliance Justice Policy Foundation Targets Purveyors Of Gear for Illicit Drugs Weed Out Drug Paraphernalia Sites
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #36 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 10:21:58 PT
Legal Use for Hookahs
Hooked On Hookahs?New Smoking Trend Concerns Health Officials:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #35 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 10:16:06 PT
These are for Tobacco
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #34 posted by afterburner on February 25, 2003 at 10:02:30 PT:
War on Some Drugs Escalates, Again.
Is this the storm before the calm, the last twitching spasm of a failed policy?The Compassionate Conservatives"We don't get fooled again." -The Who.'t%20Get%20Fooled%20Again/ego destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #33 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 09:57:07 PT
Article from Oregon Daily Emerald
Federal Agents Raid Eugene Glass Blowers Monday's action comes as part of nationwide indictments against distributors of drug paraphernalia Brook Reinhard and Ali Shaughnessy, Staff WritersFebruary 25, 2003 Federal law enforcement agents served indictments to dozens of glass blowing manufacturers and headshops nationwide Monday in a series of raids, confiscating millions of dollars worth of drug- and tobacco-related paraphernalia. At least 55 people were indicted, including two Eugene businessmen that own a glass manufacturing company, a distributorship, a local retail shop and multiple Web sites.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #32 posted by Truth on February 25, 2003 at 09:45:30 PT
Dark Star
Side note to Dark Star...Martha and I saw "The Dead" at the Warfield Theater on Valentine's Day. They were GREAT. Catch them in a city near you this summer.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #31 posted by druid on February 25, 2003 at 09:17:08 PT
and 1 more from Idaho
'Head shop' crackdown includes three MV businessesThe Times-News and
The Associated PressTWIN FALLS -- A Burley man and two Twin Falls residents were among 55 people arrested on federal indictments Monday during a nationwide crackdown on drug paraphernalia sales, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Lena Ann Johnson, owner of Enchantress at 622 N. Main Ave. in Twin Falls; Daniel Ben Nogara, owner of Dead on Arrival, 455 Second Ave. S. in Twin Falls; and Manuel Munoz, manager of Li'l Cinders Smoke Shop at 2311 Overland Ave. in Burley were among 17 arrested in Idaho and Oregon.-------------snip-----------------------
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #30 posted by Dark Star on February 25, 2003 at 09:15:15 PT
Here's Another
"Drug paraphernalia with drug use is like having a gun and ammunition," O'Brien said. "You can't use the gun unless you have the ammunition."Wrong. Are they going to start collecting all those used toilet paper tubes? To make a pipe, all someone has to do is cut a hole in one end, make a crater out of aluminum foil, put pinholes in it and tape it in place. Inhale and enjoy, baby (hypothetically, that is, of course).In his misguided youth, Dark Star got high many a time with this method. The statute of limitations has passed---
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #29 posted by druid on February 25, 2003 at 08:58:17 PT
and another one from Idaho
Herbert AtienzaThe Idaho StatesmanSeventeen owners and employees of “head shops” in Idaho and Eastern Oregon were arrested Monday as part of Operation Pipe Dream, a nationwide crackdown on the trafficking of illegal drug paraphernalia sold in traditional stores and on the Internet.The arrests netted the operators of stores such as the Red Eye Hut, which has locations in Boise, Nampa and Ontario, Ore.In all, 55 people were arrested and charged in at least 10 states by federal, state and local authorities for alleged involvement in the sale of products intended for the use of illegal drugs, including bongs, marijuana pipes, miniature spoons and scales. ---snip----
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #28 posted by druid on February 25, 2003 at 08:54:48 PT
related article from an Idaho newspaper
Newshawk: druidPubdate: Tue, 25 Feb 2003Source: Idaho State Journal Author: Sean EllisWebsite: shut 3 storesFeds Seize alleged drug devices in PocatelloPOCATELLO - Federal authorities and local police raided and shut down three Pocatello businesses Monday in conjunction with a national crackdown on the sale of drug paraphernalia."We can't go out preaching, 'Say no to drugs,' without taking these types of instruments off the street," Thomas O'Brien, a spokesman with the Drug Enforcement Administration office in Seattle, said during a press conference in Pocatello.A similar press conference was held in Boise and Attorney General John Ashcroft and heads of several federal agencies held a related news conference in Washington.Federal authorities indicted 55 people on charges of trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia, using both traditional stores and the Internet.In coordinated raids on Monday, officials confiscated thousands of tons of paraphernalia from companies boasting up to $50 million in annual sales.The charges are the culmination of two nationwide investigations code-named Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter and include indictments against national distributors of drug paraphernalia and businesses nationwide.In Pocatello, DEA representatives, U.S. Marshals and local police agencies confiscated alleged drug paraphernalia from Pegasus Book Store, 246 W. Center St., Smokey's Den, 145 S. Third Ave., and 20 After 4, 218 N. Main St.Arrested in Pocatello were Pegasus employee Michelle Darlene Harrison; Damon M. Bosquez, manager of Smokey's; Bryan Jason Clum and Travis Clifton Shafer, co-owners of 20 After 4, and Thomas Owen Calvin, an employee of the store.In Idaho Falls, Charisma and Shadow Domain were raided, as were stores in Burley, Twin Falls, Mountain Home and Boise.Seventeen owners and employees of so-called "head shops" in Idaho and eastern Oregon were arrested and accused of offering to sell drug paraphernalia to undercover agents.Those charged face up to three years in prison and maximum fines of $250,000 for each count.Defendants were charged with conspiracy to sell and offering to sell types of drug paraphernalia to undercover agents.All the indictments seek forfeiture of the illegal paraphernalia and the proceeds from its sale.According to federal law, drug paraphernalia is defined as any equipment, product or material primarily intended for use in processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting or inhaling illegal drugs.According to police, many of the items were disguised as common objects such as highlighter pens, lipstick pagers and credit cards to elude detection as drug paraphernalia and were marketed using code names and symbols.They can include clay pipes, water pipes, kits to conceal drug use in urine tests, chillums, bongs and hookahs.A bong is a sealed chamber partially filled with water, used to draw marijuana smoke deeply into the lungs; a chillum is a narrow funnel typically made out of glass or clay, used to smoke marijuana; a hookah is a water pipe with flexible tubes extending from the main chamber to multiple mouth pieces.Ashcroft said the sale of drug paraphernalia has exploded on the Internet, making it easier for teenagers and young adults to buy it."Quite simply, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has invaded the homes of families across the country without their knowledge," Ashcroft said in a statement. "This illegal, billion-dollar industry will no longer be ignored by law enforcement.""People selling drug paraphernalia are in essence no different than drug dealers," said Acting DEA Administrator John Brown. "They are as much a part of drug trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide."These criminals operate a multimillion-dollar enterprise, selling their paraphernalia in head shops, distributing out of huge warehouses, and using the worldwide Web as a worldwide paraphernalia market.""These aren't stores selling a few pipes here and there, nor are they selling legitimate tobacco-related products," U.S. Attorney Tom Moss said at the Boise news conference. "These are drug-oriented businesses, and they represent big money.""Drug paraphernalia with drug use is like having a gun and ammunition," O'Brien said. "You can't use the gun unless you have the ammunition."
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #27 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 08:51:47 PT
This is one of the gifs I liked from years ago
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #26 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 08:29:42 PT
An Older Article & Picture
The Old Mac That Went to Pot:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #25 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 07:49:44 PT
DEA Press Release
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #24 posted by TecHnoCult on February 25, 2003 at 07:46:37 PT
Hornet's Nest
Anyway, I don't think these details matter. The point is, they have declared war on the cannabis culture. I think they are just stiring a hornet's nest. In the end, it will be thier bullying that leads to people standing up for thier rights. Ultimately, they will push us and our sympathizers to force the liberalization of cannabis laws.THC
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #23 posted by TecHnoCult on February 25, 2003 at 07:42:45 PT
Surely thier defense is that the paraphenila can be used for tobacco. How can the prosecution prove otherwise? They sell the stuff to smoke with, it's up to use what we somke! I just don't understand how my local Head Shop wasn't shut down long ago under the same laws. THC
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #22 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 07:31:07 PT
Necessity Is The Mother of Invention
News is slower so far today and I am catching on reading all the comments. These raids won't stop the use of drugs. 
People will become more creative. Will electrical clips become illegal? How about if you are a Nurse or Doctor and have hemostats? 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #21 posted by FoM on February 25, 2003 at 07:20:46 PT
Related Article from the San Francisco Chronicle
U.S. Raids Firms Selling Items Used by Pot Smokers Ashcroft blames Internet for paraphernalia Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer  Tuesday, February 25, 2003  Copyright: 2003 San Francisco Chronicle
 Saying high times are over for those who sell pipes and bongs favored by pot smokers, federal agents raided more than 100 homes and businesses throughout the nation Monday, including a glass-pipe company owned by actor- comedian Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. The raids stemmed from the indictments of 50 people, including six in Northern California, who face federal charges of trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia. 
Snipped:Complete Article:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #20 posted by Prime on February 25, 2003 at 07:17:45 PT
Is the butt of every morning jock's radio show joke line today. They are all saying the same thing as we are.Are rolling papers illegal?How can you arrest someone for "intent" or "purpose"? If I intend to use a Coke can as paraphernalia doesnt it become illegal?What makes a glass tobacco pipe illegal and a handcarved wooden pipe legal?Just to add to the joke list. I used to smoke out of Bugles, the little cone shaped crispy snacks. Yes, I am quite dexterous. And boy does those Bugles taste good after a little smoke.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #19 posted by Dark Star on February 25, 2003 at 06:09:14 PT
What's Next?: An Imaginary Editorial, Coming Soon
It's not long until spring, and then summer is around the corner. Do you know what that means? Corn!You may have never thought of this all-American crop as subversive and a vegetable conducive to terrorism, but the venerable grain has a dangerous by-product: corncobs!You may throw yours away, but youth across the nation are drying their cobs, applying insidious Swiss Army Knives (those legalizers!), and turning them into drug paraphernalia! Corncobs are used as marijuana pipes!We must urge Ayatollah Ashcroft to turn his energies now to eradicating corn from the planet. Agent Orange, Paraquat, Fungus attacks, we don't care how. No more corncob marijuana pipes must threaten our youth! We'll still have wheat for bread, and barley for beer, so no one should miss corn except for the illegal aliens flooding our southern border.America Rules!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #18 posted by Prime on February 25, 2003 at 00:29:58 PT
Stupid Question...
What makes a highlighter a "school" highlighter?I use a highlighter everyday, and I havent been in school since 1984. I'm almost 40 years old.Its just a highlighter, but they add the school bit to make the "all about the children argument". In the dictionary they call this P-R-O-P-A-G-A-N-D-A.Its use was perfected during WWII, when more then 12 million innocent men, women, and children were murder because their ethnicity. Taste my Propaganda.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 23:57:36 PT
Supply and demand is the way business works. In out state getting caught with Paraphernalia is worse then getting caught with Cannabis. It's been that way since the late 70s. I think it's a $250 fine for Paraphernalia and $100 fine for any amount under 100 grams of Cannabis. I think I'm right but I haven't checked it out for a long time and could be wrong.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #16 posted by Ron Bennett on February 24, 2003 at 23:50:40 PT
Many sites are down already, but for those up...
Many down...but the sites that remain up can now significantly raise prices while selling more product too!There's now less competition while demand will likely remain steady or possibly even increase over time - upshot being that for the sites that can weather the storm, the payoff will be akin to hitting the jackpot at Vegas.Demand typically drives supply and thus reducing supply, such as the DEA is trying to do with pipes, is pointless, since others will come into the marketplace to meet the demand...they always do :)Ron
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 23:42:30 PT
Hard to Handle
They are seizing property again. It's the money. I mentioned in Richard Cowan's chat about forfeiture laws. I'm calling it a day. It's late and I'm really tired. 
They sure laughed about the gas mask bong if that's what they called it. What a crazy world we live in. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 23:34:42 PT
Mark My Words!
By removing the relatively safe so-called "cutting agents" from the market they're going to encourage heroin and cocaine dealers to use anything they can get their hands on to cut the stuff.Kids will die and it's ashcrofts' fault.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 23:29:31 PT
I wonder how many times they've mentioned kids?
All these items apparently are only used by kids. I'll be damned.Mary Beth Buchanan is a sick woman.These "sneaky pipes" like the highlighters AREN'T being used in class in front of the teachers because they would REEK to high heaven.The lies are flying faster than my fingers can type. She said heroin and cocaine couldn't be distributed without "baggies." What did they use before baggies, Mary Beth?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 23:18:35 PT
Just Did a Search for Bongs on Google
Many sites are down already.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 23:14:13 PT
What a bunch of wankers
Must have taken some really brilliant undercover work to have found these websites. This seems to be some trumpet blowing session for the DEAth in response to their 0 rating.I think I'll make a bong out of some duct tape and plastic sheeting. :-)Where are the "kids" getting the credit cards needed to purchase these horrible items over the internet?I'm angry for the sick people, FoM. It's just how I feel.Bud Green
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 23:05:16 PT
The reporters lost interest
They've started asking questions that have nothing to do with the "bonging" of amerika.Three non-related ?'s in a row and ashcroft walked out! Tee-hee!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 23:04:10 PT
I don't get angry just discusted. I understand anger but I'm beyond it now. I've seen so many bad things recently that I am almost not shocked by anything anymore. We are moving into a new realm of living that will be the most oppressive ever or at least in my life time. It's another sad time for us as a nation.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 22:52:08 PT
Walters Immediately Slammed Cannabis
and only cannabis. Then he talked about some dead narc. I'm sorry but I don't give a damn.LIAR!!!!!!!! &*%%$^&*(%$ (&^%$&&*^&$^&* UU&*& AAARRRRGGGHGHHHHH!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 22:49:57 PT
Oh Boy
Now John Walters is talking about marijuana and dependency! What a world we live in.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 22:45:10 PT
Thou Shall Not STEAL, antichrist ashcroft
I was right. I'm disgusted. *%&**^
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 22:36:09 PT
I'm taping it now! 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by BGreen on February 24, 2003 at 22:31:53 PT
I'm going to try to watch it, FoM
but it angers me to watch them spew their lies. I'm interested in seeing the way walters looks when he's not being grilled by an interviewer.I know I'm going to be cussing at the TV and scaring my cat in a few minutes.Peace to everybody,Bud Green
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by delariand on February 24, 2003 at 22:18:53 PT
It seems to me as if the federal government is starting to grasp at straws here... I mean, is prosecuting a few people who sell bongs really going to put the slightest dent in the drug use of the country? They trump it up to make it sound like there were some massive "organizations" behind distributing drug paraphenilia all over the country, but in reality they busted a few people who were just trying to live their version of the American dream. Starting your own bong company is just as American as starting your own restaurant, or clothes store, or any other business venture you could think of.Someday, this will all be looked back on as a shameful period in the history of this country. Founded with the ideas of freedom and liberty for all, and look how far we've fallen.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 24, 2003 at 22:18:34 PT
Friendly Reminder - C-Span
The program will be on at 1:33 AM ET on C-Span 2. Hope some of you get to see it.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Virgil on February 24, 2003 at 21:54:13 PT
They are so far over the line, they can't see it 
Besides they are not looking back to the line they crossed a long time ago, they want to increase the distance in the direction the fascists have established. Don't people smoke Salvia Divinorum with a pipe? Why would they not be allowed a legal means to acquire pipes and bongs? It is a leap to outlaw these products.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment