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Agents seize bongs at L.A. Harbor listed as Christmas ornaments

BigbongCustoms officials at the Los Angeles Harbor received a shipment from China listed as Christmas ornaments.

But when they opened the "presents" Tuesday, they found 316,000 bongs and pipes.

“They’re very colorful and big,” said Cristina Gamez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Some of them are like 2 feet tall.”

Gamez said glass bongs and pipes, contained in nearly 860 boxes of cargo, are worth about $2.6 million.

The package arrived a month ago but was seized Tuesday at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex. The manifest listing the cargo’s contents said Christmas ornaments were inside. They were addressed to someone in L.A. County.

Gamez said no arrests have been made, and an investigation is pending. She said that it is illegal to import, export or sell drug paraphernalia in the United States and that all the items would be destroyed.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: A bong seized by Customs agents at L.A. Harbor. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement

Comments () | Archives (96)

Crappy Chinese made goods that are riddled with lead paint are ok to import.

But blown glass is not?

I'm glad Customs has their priorities straight.

I guess they've never heard of Bong Christmas ornaments? No sense of humor, I suppose.

Oh the humanity!

What the hell? We don't even make bongs in this country anymore? We had to outsource that?

I had no idea these were illegal to import or export or sell... uh, does the Customs people ever heard of a head shop?! Are they going to destroy the contents of these stores too? Had the importer labeled it as a "water pipe" or some Turkish tabacco pipe, would it have let it go through? What a waste...

Senseless. The Drug War should be stopped.

Senseless. The Drug War should be stopped.

Thanks guys for spending your time doing useless stuff. I feel sooo much safer knowing that bongs couldnt get into the country!


destroyed? cant they at least sell these off to pay down some bills?

I dont smoke pot but it is time to stop the failed war on pot. It is a colossal waste of time and money.

These aren't illegal, they're not used for drugs, they're used for tobacco and in Hooka Bars. These are very popular for kids to smoke the herbal tobaccos. They're sold in many ciagarette stores.

How do Head shops in California get away with selling bongs then?

I'm throughly confused...if its illegal to sell these items in this country, how do headshops stay open...in almost every single city in this state? There's a least 5 headshops in the Wooldand HIlls/Canoga Park area and they've been open for decades. They're not hidden either and they've existed well before the current MJ laws.

So something is missing in this news story...is the simple change of calling them waterpipes good enough to skirt the law?

Gee, this is so important...what an efficient use of government resources!

There is nothing else going on that they would need to attend to, is there?

What a waste of our taxpayer dollars.

"it is illegal to import, export or sell drug paraphernalia in the United States and that all the items would be destroyed."

Ummm...how can this be true? Has anyone ever been to the boardwalk at Venice Beach? The East Village? They sell these things everywhere, labeled as "tobacco accessories" or the like. Seems like something's missing from this story....

What a waist of taxpayer dollars. In this time if budget shortfalls this should make the Obama Administration seriously consider cutting some of the US Customs budget and spending that money fighting real crime. Apparently we should also consider a retooling of customs laws.

you cant smoke a bong. they dont hurt anybody, but the people that use them. you can use them for actual tobacco. thats 2.6 million that wont be used to help stimulate the states economy...whaa whaa whaaaaaaaa.

legalize it

I was under the impression an item is only paraphernalia if traces of illegal substances are on it. These seem to be unused, which means there is nothing illegal about it. So why are they deemed "paraphernalia"? Or is Chinese glass too much of a threat?

Since when is it the job of the harbor patrol to decided what is and isn't paraphrenalia?

These pieces are all made of glass and by federal law can not be called drug paraphrenalia since there is no gauruntee that they were intended for illicit use.

It is wrong to destroy these beautiful works of art.

And the business person who had them ordered did nothing wrong.

Yes it is illegal to import paraphrenalia.

It is not illegal to blow glass and sell it.

These pieces are not drug paraphrenalia.

Buy American!

This is how the government is wasting our tax dollars. The money we spend prosecuting marijuana users could go toward more important matters at hand. The officers involved in this whole thing could be investigating missing child cases or keeping organized criminals from terrorizing our country.
Regardless of the health concerns anyone may have, as a public policy, 70+ years of marijuana prohibition have caused far, far more harm to society than this plant ever could in a million years.

are they going to recycal the glass and the boxes or just dump the crushed items in landfills ??????????????????????????????????

If bongs are specifically drug periphenilia they also need to do away with Lighters, light bulbs, spoons, syringes, mouths, lungs and minds... what a pathetic "seige." Honestly, how many crimes happened in L.A. at the exact moment they were wasting their time on collecting boxes of glass items?

Thats 2.6 million worth of stuff that won't undercut American producers of these products. They would all mostly be sold in Convenience stores and gas stations for far cheaper than higher quality American made versions at locally owned shops.

What stimulates the economy more, a buyer making a killing off of cheap imports, or a network of American producers and retailers being able to keep working? Buy American! Stop buying cheap Chinese crap.

I say Customs finally got something right.

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