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Police aim to stop sales of pipes at raided store


Howard County police say they plan to seek an injunction against an Ellicott City boutique owner who was arrested on drug paraphernalia charges Wednesday, when detectives confiscated 113 bongs and other smoking pipes from the business.

If the injunction is granted by a County Circuit judge, Debra Ann Smith, 40, of the 4900 block of Dorsey Hall Drive, will not be allowed to sell any type of smoking pipe from Moon Star Uniques before her trial, said Lt. Jeffrey Spaulding.

Ms. Smith, her son, Joshua Hawk Smith, 19, and store manager Trista Richardson Turner, 21, were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to sell the items. Ms. Turner also was charged with possession of marijuana. They were released on personal recognizance early yesterday.

Ms. Turner said yesterday police made a mistake in connecting the business to drug activity.

"We did nothing illegal," Ms. Turner said. "We obtained a license from Howard County to sell tobacco products. Everything was done by the books."

Ms. Turner, of the 9200 block of Winding Way in Ellicott City, refused to comment on the small amount of marijuana police said they found in her purse.

Ms. Turner said the sale of pipes was a small part of Moon Star Uniques business. The store, located on Main Street in Ellicott City's historic district, specializes in bead necklaces, silver jewelry and vintage clothing, she said.

Lieutenant Spaulding, who heads the police department's vice and narcotics division, said police began investigating the shop in January after receiving anonymous tips about the sale of drug pipes there.

But plainclothes officers who browsed in the small shop in January reported seeing no evidence of illegal sales.

Police received similar complaints last month and about two weeks ago, and an undercover officer entered the store, examined a hand-carved tobacco pipe, then asked an employee if there were any cheaper models, Lieutenant Spaulding said.

The employee asked to see the officer's license, then led him to a locked second-floor room. Inside, the officer bought a $45, 14-inch smoking pipe, Lieutenant Spaulding said.

Officers from the Street Drug Unit served a search warrant at the business around 7 p.m. Wednesday. More than a 100 smoking pipes -- some at least 5-feet long -- were recovered, along with ingestion tubes and screens, sales receipts, business records and catalogs advertising paraphernalia, police said.

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