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LA gas station sells crack pipes near school

December 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A gas station convenience store has been selling crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia just a few feet from a middle school. A local resident discovered it and police are now investigating.A sergeant with LAPD's vice squad said this sort of thing is prevalent: Drug paraphernalia being sold out in the open in places like gas stations and other locations where kids have access. Tuesday night, the LAPD credited one proactive resident with helping them crack down on one establishment selling crack pipes.

At the corner of Main Street and Imperial Boulevard in South Los Angeles, Michael Reel discovered an Arco station selling more than gasoline to its customers.

"There were a large amount of crack pipes and weed pipes and rolling paper for weed and just a lot of drug paraphernalia that caught my attention," said Michael Reel, editor of ReelUrbanNew.com.

Crack pipes are for sale in the merchandise window right next to the candy. Reel says he complained to the owner of the Arco station and was assured the drug paraphernalia would be removed.

"We came back a week later, approached the window and we bought crack pipes. And that's when we came back a subsequent time and bought even more crack pipes last night," said Reel.

That's when Reel videotaped himself buying a crack pipe and then confronting the clerk.

What infuriates Reel the most is that the gas station selling crack pipes is right next to a Markham Middle School.

"It's sending the message that this is what you have to look forward to, when you graduate Markham, come on back, we got crack pipes for you so you can start your drug career and not further your education," said Reel.

The LAPD vice squad watched Reel's video and conducted its own investigation at the Arco station and found nothing suspicious.

"Everything was in order today, but we did not find any evidence or contraband of the glass tubes or glass pipes," said LAPD Vice Sgt. Scott Carty.

Police say there's a gray area when it comes to the sale of drug paraphernalia. If the customer makes it known to the clerk their intention is to use the pipe for illicit purposes, and the clerk follows through with the sale, then a crime has been committed.

"Lots of times these glass tubes are concealed in such a way, or manufactured in such a way, they'll have flower in them," said Carty.

Police say that typically establishments caught selling drug paraphernalia face a misdemeanor offense. They say they're able to keep the pressure on stations like the Arco because of the community and diligent residents like Michael Reel.


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