Pipe Dreams And Headhunter Put Illegal Drug Paraphernalia Sellers Out
WASHINGTON, DC -- Attorney General John Ashcroft and Acting DEA Administrator John B. Brown, III today announced the indictment of 50 individuals on charges of trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia. 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. DEA offices in Boise, Idaho; Des Moines, Iowa; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Dallas and Tyler, Texas were involved in these investigations.
"With the advent of the Internet, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has exploded," Ashcroft said. "The drug paraphernalia business is now accessible in anyone's home with a computer and Internet access. And in homes across America we know that children and young adults are the fastest growing Internet users. Quite simply, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has invaded the homes of families across the country without their knowledge. This illegal billion-dollar industry will no longer be ignored by law enforcement. Today, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and Associate Deputy Attorney General Karen Tandy, has taken decisive steps to dismantle the illegal drug paraphernalia industry by attacking their physical, financial and Internet infrastructures."
The defendants have been charged with conspiracy to sell and offering to sell various types of drug paraphernalia, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sections 846, 853 and 863. Federal law defines drug paraphernalia as those products that are primarily intended or designed to be used in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise using controlled substances, and include user-friendly and dealer-friendly devices. Items such as miniature scales, substances for "cutting" or diluting raw narcotics, bongs, marijuana pipes, roach clips, miniature spoons and cocaine freebase kits, among other things, are all considered drug paraphernalia.
All the defendants knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully sold the items for use with illegal narcotics. Many of the items were disguised as common objects such as hi-liters and lipsticks to elude detection as drug paraphernalia and were marketed using code names and symbols.
"People selling drug paraphernalia are in essence no different than drug dealers," said Acting Administrator 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 headshops, distributing out of huge warehouses, and using the worldwide web as a worldwide paraphernalia market. With Operations Pipe Dreams and Headhunter, these criminals are out of business and 11 illicit dot.coms are dot.gone."
"Each of us standing here today took an oath of office to uphold and enforce our nation's laws," said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "The aggressive marketing of the tools and paraphernalia of drug use is illegal and has been an active affront to the efforts of parents, educators, and community leaders who are trying to help young people stay away from dangerous drugs. Today's actions send a clear and unambiguous message to those who would poison our children: We will bring you to justice, and we will act decisively to protect our young people from the harms of illegal drugs. I applaud the hard work of the Justice Department, the U.S. Attorneys, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, who have provided an important and welcome boost to our drug prevention efforts, and reaffirm the truth that no community, no city, no state, and no nation is better off with more drug use."
Federal law provides for a maximum total sentence of three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, with respect to each count set forth in the indictments.
OPERATION PIPE DREAMS
The investigation leading to the indictments in this case was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, along with the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Immigration and
Naturalization Service, Pennsylvania State Police, City of Pittsburgh Police, Allegheny County (Pa.) Sheriff, Stowe Township Police, Chippewa (Pa.) Police Department and the Duquesne (Pa.) Police Department.
The individuals named in the indictments are:
Named in the indictments announced today are 17 individuals who operated 10 national distribution companies of drug paraphernalia.
The following persons operated six businesses based in California:
who ran the four other national operations charged were:
Regional Retail Shops
Ten individuals who sold drug paraphernalia in retail shops in the Western District of Pennsylvania also face charges of conspiracy, offering for sale, and selling drug paraphernalia. The defendants in Pennsylvania are:
The investigation leading to the indictments in this case was led by the DEA, along with the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, Polk County (Iowa) Sheriff's Office and the Des Moines (Iowa) Police Department.
The individuals named in the four indictments brought in the Southern District of Iowa, announced today, include:
Adamson and Bruce Dean Ross d/b/a Grow Industries, d/b/a Zong Toy
Company, d/b/a Zong Industries, d/b/a ZTC, d/b/a Seedless and d/b/a
Seedless Clothing Company Shea Artis McComb, San Diego, Calif.