Paraphernalia: ICE Raids South Florida Head Shops 4/7/06

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/430/iceraids.shtml

You would think the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, formerly INS, would be busy fighting terrorism and securing the borders, but you would be wrong. According to ICE, at least part of its mission is to keep America bong-free.

Some of its special agents spent last Friday serving federal search and seizure warrants against five South Florida head shops, all located in the Coral Gables area. The raids resulted in the seizure of 5,500 drug paraphernalia items worth more than $250,000, ICE reported. The raiders didn't limit themselves to pipes and bongs, however; they also seized rolling papers and stash containers designed to look like commercial products, such as women's lipstick tubes and pagers.

"These shops sell a dangerous lie about drugs and drug use," said Jesus Torres, special agent-in-charge for ICE in Miami. "It is obvious they want people to think its okay to take drugs. This is simply unacceptable."

Under federal law, any bong and any pipe not made of briar or corncob is considered drug paraphernalia, whether or not it has actually been used for that purpose. Similarly, other items that appear to be intended for use in consuming illegal drugs can also be considered drug paraphernalia.

The raid is the latest in Operation Up in Smoke -- and what's with the cutesy name, anyway? -- a continuing ICE Miami initiative launched in December 2003 to go after businesses that illegally import, manufacture, and distribute drug paraphernalia in South Florida. It remains unclear why ICE has assigned itself the mission of enforcing paraphernalia manufacture and distribution offenses that are entirely domestic. Nonetheless, since the initiative began, ICE special agents have served about 25 federal search warrants and seized more than 85,000 items valued at more than $2 million, the agency boasted.

While no arrests have been made, businesses have been put out of business. More search and seizure warrants are coming down the pike, ICE said, noting that enforcing drug paraphernalia laws "is a top priority for ICE."

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Issue #430 -- 4/7/06

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Editorial: Stopping Bongs, Not Bombs (Evidently) | Feature: Measure to Make Drug Czar Research "Frankenstein Fungus" to Destroy Drug Crops Heads to the Senate | Feature: Pittsburgh Needle Exchange Under Attack, But May Come Out Ahead | Feature: As the Well Runs Dry, Texas Drug Task Forces Ride Off Into the Sunset | Offer: Important New Legalization Video Available | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Law Enforcement: NYPD Shuts Down Chelsea Clubs Over Drug Violations | Search and Seizure: Cops, School District to Pay Students $1.2 Million in Goose Creek Raid Settlement | Paraphernalia: ICE Raids South Florida Head Shops | Pain Medicine: Ohio Doctor Freed on Bail During Appeal of Drug Trafficking Conviction | Pregnancy I: Cocaine Use is Not Child Abuse, New Mexico Appeals Court Says | Pregnancy II: Expectant Mothers Who Expose Fetuses to Drugs Can't Be Convicted as Drug Dealers Under Fetal Rights Law, Texas Appeals Court Rules | Medical Marijuana: Reagan Aide Lyn Nofziger Dead at 81 -- Supported Patients' Rights | Europe: Italy Sets Quantity Guidelines for Tough New Drug Law | Latin America: Pro-Coca Upstart Poised to Win First Round of Peruvian Presidential Election | Web Scan: WOLA at House Andes Hearings, Mycoherbicides Again, Broken Windows Debunked, CBC on Coca and Peru's Election, Denver Post, Meth Legalization | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunities: System Administrator and Grassroots Organizer at MPP | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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