Operation Pipe Dreams

Last updated: November 19, 2021

What Does Operation Pipe Dreams Mean?

Operation Pipe Dreams was a code name used for an investigation in the United States in 2003 that targeted businesses that were selling drug paraphernalia. The focus of the investigation was mostly on marijuana pipes and bongs, hence the name.

During Operation Pipe Dreams, most cases were filed in Pennsylvania and Iowa because other state law enforcement agencies were reluctant in helping with required resources for the operation. In Pennsylvania and Iowa, however, statutes explicitly spell out that there is a prohibition in place for using the mail delivery service for transporting drug paraphernalia, which gave Operation Pipe Dreams a lot of leverage.

Operation Dream Pipes cost about $12 million and included the involvement of 2,000 law enforcement officers.


Maximum Yield Explains Operation Pipe Dreams

During Operation Pipe Dreams, roughly 55 people were accused and charged with the trafficking of illegal drug equipment. Hundreds of homes and businesses were raided.

Among the 55 individuals charged, 54 were sentenced to fines and home detentions. The only person not charged with as light of a sentence was Tommy Chong, an actor. Instead, Chong was sentenced to nine months in a federal prison along with a fine of $20,000, a confiscation of $103,000 and a year-long probation.

Chong was also charged for financing and promoting Chong Glass Works and Nice Dreams. Unlike ordinary shops that sold bongs, Chong's shop specialized in selling exclusive bongs as collectibles for works of art. He employed 25 glass blowers, paying them about $30 an hour to produce 100 pipes per day.

Chong’s other shop called, Nice Dreams, used to have a policy where they would not sell bongs to states where the law was enforced. However, several federal agents disguised themselves and tried to buy drug equipment from the shops. When shop employees did not fall under pressure, the agents went in disguised again but this time to the place of business themselves and ordered a huge lump of products that were out of stock. Chong was then forced to move the products out of the warehouse. Later on in a plea bargain, Chong agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the non-prosecution of his wife Shelby and his son Paris.


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