Magic Marker Crack Pipe Proves Creativity Of Drug Paraphernalia

Confederate flag dealer Ron Sisk faces three federal charges, including the sale of drug paraphernalia.

He's accused of selling water pipes designed for smoking illegal drugs. Sale of drug paraphernalia is also against state law, but can sometimes be a difficult case to prove.

"Everything here was used for smoking marijuana or cocaine," said narcotics officer John Miller, as he displayed a collection of water pipes and various drug related items.

In Mississippi, like many states, possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor crime. The punishment for those convicted is up to six months in jail and a 500 dollar find.

Today's drug equipment is far more creative than you might imagine. Would you believe hollowing out a light bulb to smoke crystal meth? Or how about a magic marker that's not really a magic marker.

"This is a magic marker, but actually it's a concealed pipe," said Miller, as he demonstrated how an innocent looking marker actually is a hiding spot for a small crack pipe.

According to federal court papers, Ron Sisk told officers the bongs and glass pipes they confiscated from his property were simply "decorative items" and he did not know what people used them for.

Federal law enforcement is taking a more active role against those who sell drug paraphernalia, which Attorney General John Ashcroft describes as an illegal, billion dollar a year industry.

The Drug Enforcement Administration indicted more than 50 people last year during a nationwide sweep called "Operation Pipe Dream". One DEA official said people selling drug paraphernalia are, in essence, no different than drug dealers.

Miller says drug paraphernalia is widespread.

"We could make all the misdemeanor arrests we wanted to make on paraphernalia charges," he said.

Miller says, instead, the priority is getting the drugs off the streets. And the paraphernalia is often a reliable indicator that illegal drugs are nearby.

The federal drug paraphernalia law carries a tougher penalty than the state statute. If convicted of that count, Ron Sisk faces up to three years in prison and a 250 thousand dollar fine.