Border agents make major marijuana bust with hidden bongs

Written by By Matthew Nelson, CNN

A small number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport announced they are receiving kudos from the Office of the Inspector General for a major bust they made last month.

Officers seized nearly 4,000 bongs and more than $23,000 in unreported currency, the CBP said in a press release on Tuesday. Many of the bongs were tucked away in bags of onions, one agent claimed.

“Tightened security measures and a diligent approach to policing by our officers have produced new accomplishments at our nation’s airports,” added CBP Director of Field Operations Richard Rochford.

Officers said they noticed a pattern among some of the passengers leaving through the CBP screening lanes in early June, bringing more bongs through security. A total of 97 people were apprehended, including 47 with bongs hidden inside luggage bags.

The confiscated bongs were incinerated, officials said.

Several of the passengers arrested were Chinese nationals, according to the CBP, but no specifics were given. They face a federal charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Some of the bongs seized from travelers coming through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. Credit: CNN

U.S. Customs and Border Protection — tasked with enforcing international trade rules, as well as identifying and arresting threats to the United States from all sources — has also cracked down on an underground marijuana market, dubbed the “holy war” by some CBP officers.

From 2012 to 2018, CBP seized 20,300 pounds of marijuana in shipments arriving into the United States, according to federal data. The pounds of marijuana that officials have confiscated from tourists has been predominantly Mexican.

The confiscated bongs are burned on June 23, 2018. Credit: CNN

The roll-your-own market that CBP arrests include a product called “Empax,” which is a way to consume pot without smoking it, The Baltimore Sun reported last year. That paper bag is crushed, and can be rolled into one another up to 12 times. The euphoric effects are so serious that they are considered a controlled substance.

A U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Maryland last year settled a federal class-action lawsuit filed by some Marylanders after local law enforcement began allowing the sale of marijuana paraphernalia at local shops.

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