Sixteen thousand marijuana pipes were part of a major confiscation of drug paraphernalia carried out earlier this month by federal Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge, authorities said Monday.
The $139,000 in merchandise associated with marijuana originated in China and was bound for retailers in the New York City area when customs officers in Buffalo noticed discrepancies in paperwork and decided to conduct a secondary inspection of a tractor-trailer's contents.
"It is not unusual to see certain goods falsely described on shipping manifests," said Ann Marie Paul, assistant director of customs field operations in Buffalo. "Our targeting officers diligently scan incoming cargo shipments for discrepancies."
The falsified paperwork described the merchandise as a truckload of 847 vases and pipe accessories valued at $4,900, authorities said, but a search of the 147 boxes containing the items revealed 16,000 marijuana pipes of all different sizes and nearly 2,000 stainless steel grinders.
Public announcement of the seizure was delayed because it took weeks to count and inventory the items after they were discovered Nov. 5, authorities explained.
"It was mostly bongs and different sizes of pipes, but there were grinders. They are used to grind the marijuana into a finer form for cigarettes or joints," said Gregory J. Bennett, a chief with Customs and Border Protection in Buffalo.
This type of confiscation is not usual, according to Bennett and Paul. So far this year, they said, there have been about five similar confiscations of drug paraphernalia coming from eastern Asia, though this latest seizure has been the largest of 2011.
"The quantity and value of the goods were misreported to evade duties and seizure," Paul said, explaining that it is illegal to import drug paraphernalia into the United States.
As the investigation progresses, she added, Department of Homeland Security agents are expected to file federal charges for violations of the Controlled Substances Act against the consignee of the goods.
The seized items will be destroyed after the investigation is completed, Paul said.
November 29, 2011
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.
16,000 marijuana pipes among items seized from rig at Peace Bridge