Local News

Federal Agents Hope Recent Drug Crackdown Sends Message

Posted March 1, 2004 4:58 a.m. EST

— Federal agents raided six stores in central and eastern North Carolina for selling illegal drug paraphernalia.

A federal statute was passed in the early 1990s that prohibited the sale of drug paraphernalia, such as devices used to smoke marijuana. Many stores continued to sell the paraphernalia without being bothered by local and federal authorities until now.

U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said the bust was conducted to send the message that drug paraphernalia is illegal.

"We are getting materials off the street that facilitate the use of drugs. The people selling drug paraphernalia are profitting from someone else poisoning themselves and I think we need to remember that," he said.

>"Operation Pipe Cleaner" targeted some shops right next to North Carolina State's campus, forcing Snapdragon's to close. Buddha's Belly remains open because the shop also sells clothing and skateboards. The business still sells rolling papers and pipe parts, but agents cleared out a case that held other smoking paraphernalia.

"Its availability implies that drug usage is acceptable," assistant U.S. attorney Paul Newby said.

Some believe law enforcement time and resources would be better spent focusing on more serious crimes.

"I just think it's stupid. I mean you're not going to stop anyone from doing it," student Katie Driggs said.

Critics said the paraphernalia is still available at other shops and online. However, agents argue it is still against the law and anyone who sells paraphernalia is subject to prosecution.

Formal charges are pending.