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Monday - March 1, 2004

RALEIGH/WILMINGTON - At news conferences in Raleigh and Wilmington on Monday, March 1, 2004, United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced a multi-agency investigation, known as"Operation Pipecleaner," which involves the illegal marketing and sale of drug paraphernalia in the Eastern District of North Carolina. He also announced the return of several search warrants that were executed on Thursday, February 26, 2004, at drug paraphernalia shops (also known as "head shops") in the Raleigh/Wake County and Wilmington/New Hanover County areas.

The Raleigh/Wake County businesses include:
BUDDHA'S BELLY, 2112 Hillsborough St., Raleigh.

SNAP DRAGONS, 2526 Hillsborough St., Suite 105, Raleigh.

ROCK 'N' ROLL OUTLET, 3601 Capital Blvd., Suite 105, Raleigh.

ROCK 'N' ROLL VILLAGE, 2808-B Highway 70 W., Clayton.

The Wilmington/New Hanover County businesses include:
BUDDHA'S BELLY, 830 S. Kerr Ave., Wilmington.

EXPRESSIONS, 419 S. College Rd., Unit 39, Wilmington.

Under federal law, it is a felony "to sell or offer for sale" drug paraphernalia such as bongs, roach clips, miniature spoons, and various types of pipes. Upon conviction, the punishment includes fines, forfeitures, and up to three years of imprisonment.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Paul Newby, who coordinated the investigation, said, "The owners of drug paraphernalia businesses glamorize drug use by stocking drug paraphernalia along with clothing, posters, and other items, such as skate boards, that are attractive to and sought after by teenagers and young adults. These businesses are often located near college campuses, encouraging experimentation by those tempted to be casual users. Bongs, pipes, and other items are manufactured in bright, trendy colors with designs such as skulls, devils, dragons, and wizards. Through these marketing strategies aimed at young people, these businesses suggest that the use of drug paraphernalia and the accompanying drug usage is legitimate."

The investigation is part of a national effort to underscore the fact that drug possession and use and its facilitation are illegal, just as it is illegal to sell drugs. It is one of numerous federal-state-local initiatives that seeks to communicate that all of the laws relating to illegal drugs will be enforced.

The investigation in Eastern North Carolina was a joint federal-state-local effort and involved, in addition to the United States Attorney's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Marshals Service, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Raleigh Police Department, the Wake County Sheriff's Office,

the Wilmington Police Department, and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

United States Attorney Whitney stated, "This investigation is another great example of the cooperation of federal, state, and local law enforcement for the betterment of our communities. Those involved with drugs in any manner need to be aware not just of the health risks, but also of the law enforcement focus. Those tempted to experiment with drugs need to be reminded that the cost is far greater than the purchase price of the drugs."

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