FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
OPERATION PIPE DREAMS PUTS 55 ILLEGAL
DRUG PARAPHERNALIA SELLERS OUT OF BUSINESS
National Sweep Shuts Down Retailers, Distributors And Internet Sites
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of the Western District of Pennsylvania today announced the indictment of 27 individuals on charges of trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia. The charges, contained in 17 separate indictments, are the culmination of a nationwide investigation code-named "Operation Pipe Dreams," and include 10 indictments against national distributors of drug paraphernalia and seven indictments involving businesses located in Western Pennsylvania.
"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 Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation and was assisted by OCDETF members from the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Customs Service.
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 are alleged to have knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully sold the items for use with illegal narcotics. Many of the items were disguised as common objects such as highlighter markers and lipsticks to elude detection as drug paraphernalia and were marketed using code names and symbols.
"Those who sell drug paraphernalia are not only violating federal law, they are supporting a culture of illegal drug use. Drug users, in turn, by creating demand for heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and other illicit substances, are responsible for the violence and huge profits which accompany drug dealing in our cities and communities," said U.S. Attorney Buchanan.
"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."
The Attorney General also announced the return of four indictments in the Southern District of Iowa against national distributors of drug paraphernalia in Michigan, California and Texas, as a result of "Operation Headhunter." In those indictments, United States Attorney for Southern Iowa, Steven M. Colloton charged four corporations and nine individuals with conspiring to sell and selling illegal drug paraphernalia in the Southern District of Iowa.
Other U.S. Attorneys involved in these two operations were: Thomas E. Moss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho; Matthew D. Orwig, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas; Jane Boyle, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Emily M. Sweeney, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
"People selling drug paraphernalia are in essence no different than drug dealers," said John Brown, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "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."
Including other regional takedowns, a total of 35 indictments were issued, charging 55 persons, nationwide. 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 individuals named in the indictments are:
oJoyce J. Adamy, a/k/a Joyce J. Kunkle, and d/b/a Phantasm, age 27, of Johnstown, PA.;
oJodey P. Bayle, d/b/a Pipe Emporium, d/b/a Sunrise Distribution, and d/b/a Pipesforyou.com, 48, of Erie, PA.;
oGlen W. Beers, d/b/a G.W. Pipedreams, 29, of Clarion, PA.;
oWilliam A. Conover, d/b/a B&M Variety, 42, of Erie, PA.;
oChristina A. Cummings, d/b/a Phantasm, 28, of Johnstown, PA.;
oMichael Anthony Deblasio, d/b/a Heads-N-Threads, 24, of North Huntingdon, PA.;
oJason Robert Harris, d/b/a Jerome Baker Designs, Inc., d/b/a Ghettoweb, Inc., d/b/a Universal Glass, Inc., d/b/a Jeromebaker.com, d/b/a Ghettoweb.com, d/b/a Smokelab.com, and d/b/a Higher Source, 32, of Eugene, OR.;
oRichard Kevin Jaussen, d/b/a Tela Ropa, Inc., 48, of Pittsburgh, PA.;
oAra Melkizian, d/b/a Omnilounge L.L.C., and d/b/a Omnilounge.com, 29, of North Hollywood, CA.;
oSaeed Mohtadi, d/b/a Jerome Baker Designs, Inc., d/b/a Ghettoweb, Inc., d/b/a Universal Glass, Inc., d/b/a Jeromebaker.com, d/b/a Ghettoweb.com, d/b/a Smokelab.com, and d/b/a Higher Source, 32, of Eugene, OR.;
oJohn Matthew Patrick, d/b/a California Colorchangers, Inc., and d/b/a Colorchangingglass.com, 38, of Forestville, CA.;
oRandolph Przekop, d/b/a Slacker, Inc., 36, of Pittsburgh, PA.;
oAhmad Rakine, d/b/a A&E Wholesalers, Inc., 20, of Pembroke Pines, FL.;
oEric M. Rodgers, d/b/a Stone Artworx, Inc., 32, of Phoenix, AZ.;
oEdward Ian Rothschild, d/b/a Edward Rothschild Entertainment, Inc., d/b/a Rothschild Consulting, Inc., d/b/a Gothic Dungeon, d/b/a 420now.com, d/b/a 420smile.com, d/b/a Gothicdungeon.com, d/b/a Testingfree.com, and d/b/a Themallusa.com, 48, of Columbia, SC;
oDavid V. Stone, d/b/a Stone Artworx, Inc., 38, of Phoenix, AZ.;
oMary Louise Stone, d/b/a Stone Artworx, Inc., 58, of Glendale, AZ.;
oRyan Vaughn Struble, d/b/a Headcase, and d/b/a Aheadcase.com, 30, of Diamond Bar, CA;
oRyan Teurfs, d/b/a 101 North Glass, Inc., d/b/a The Glass House, and d/b/a 101north.net, 29, of Arcata, CA.;
oInez M. Thompson, d/b/a Pipe Emporium, d/b/a Sunrise Distribution, and d/b/a Pipesforyou.com, 48, of Erie, PA.;
oJason Vrbas, d/b/a 101 North Glass, Inc., d/b/a The Glass House, and d/b/a 101north.net, 29, of Arcata, CA.;
oJohn Lee Walker, a/k/a John Lee Walker, Jr., d/b/a Headcase, and d/b/a Aheadcase.com, 35, of Riverside, CA.;
oGabriel Watson, d/b/a 101 North Glass, Inc., d/b/a The Glass House, and d/b/a 101north.net, 29, of Arcata, CA.;
oAnthony Yanow, d/b/a Hot Comet Enterprises, d/b/a Puff Pipes, d/b/a Atmospheres Lifestyles of LA, and d/b/a Puffpipes.com, 31, of Los Angeles, CA;
oWaleed A. Zahrieh, d/b/a Wicked Corp. and d/b/a Sands of Time, 37, of, Los Gatos, CA.;
oNessar David Zahriya, d/b/a Wicked Corp. and d/b/a Sands of Time, 39, of San Mateo, CA.; and
oTracie Lynn Zimmerman, d/b/a Heads-N-Threads, 34, of North Huntingdon, PA.
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:
oMelkizian operated Omnilounge L.L.C. which also did business over the internet as omnilounge.com.
oPatrick was charged as the operator of California Colorchangers, which did business as colorchangingglass.com.
oTeurfs, Vrbas and Watson operated another internet company named 101north.net, which also did business as 101 North Glass and The Glass House.
oYanow has been indicted for running puffpipes.com, which also did business as Hot Comet Enterprises and Atmospheres Lifestyles of L.A.
oStruble and Walker were charged with operating aheadcase.com, also known as Headcase.
oZahriya and Zahrieh were indicted in conjunction with their operation of the Sands of Time and its successor business, Wicked Corporation.
The individuals who ran the four other national operations charged were:
oRothschild did business under all of the names listed above, and Gothic Dungeon in Columbia, SC;
oRakine operated A&E Wholesalers in Pembroke Pines, FL.;
CStone, Stone and Rodgers ran Stone Artworx in Phoenix, AZ.; and
oHarris and Mohtadi owned Jerome Baker Designs and the other companies in Eugene, OR.
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:
oBeers, G.W. Pipedreams, Clarion
oConover, B&M Variety, Erie
oJaussen, Tela Ropa, Pittsburgh
oThompson and Bayle, Pipe Emporium, Sunrise Distribution and pipesforyou.com, Erie
oZimmerman and Deblasio, Heads-N-Threads, North Huntingdon
oAdamy and Cummings, Phantasm, Johnstown
oPrzekop, Slacker, Inc., Pittsburgh
The investigation leading to the indictment in this case was led by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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 DEA resident office in Des Moines, Iowa, initiated an investigation into the sale and distribution of drug paraphernalia at headshops in Southern Iowa in January 2000. Federal search warrants executed at four such businesses in Iowa resulted in the seizure of more than $2 million in drug paraphernalia. The searches also implicated various national distributors, including four companies indicted today.
The individuals named in the four indictments brought in the Southern District of Iowa, announced today, include:
oAlan Bruce Clute, a/k/a Bruce Clute, Lawrence Charles Bowman, and Smoky Mountain Trading Co, d/b/a Dream Factory Boutique and d/b/a Strange Daze Boutique, of Detroit, MI.
oJose Corona Zavala, Jr., Juan Luis Zavala, Clinton Lee Goodson, and The Other Side, d/b/a The Crush, d/b/a The Worx, d/b/a The Bomb, d/b/a Toys in the Attic and d/b/a Artistic Alchemy Manufacturing, of Sacramento and North Hollywood, CA.
oAmanda Claire Ballard, a/k/a Amanda Claire Irwin, a/k/a Mandi Claire Ballard, a/k/a Mandi Claire Irwin, Allison Blakely Ballard, and Acme Distributing and Mfg., d/b/a Acme Distributing, d/b/a Smoke Stax and d/b/a A & M Gifts, of Houston, TX.
oCatherine Nicole Adamson, Bruce Dean Ross and 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, of San Diego, CA.
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, the Iowa National Guard and the Des Moines (Iowa) Police Department. Assistance was provided by the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Attorneys Offices for the following districts: Eastern District of Michigan, Southern District of California, Central District of California, Southern District of Texas, and the Eastern District of California.