Police: La Crosse convenience store is selling drug pipe kits

A Tribune editor purchased this "brown bag special" Thursday morning at the gas station at 1914 State Road on La Crosse's South Side. The copper scrubber can serve as a filter, and the glass tube as a pipe, which La Crosse police say can be used to smoke methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin. 

Rory O'Driscoll, La Crosse Tribune

La Crosse police warn that a South Side La Crosse gas station has been selling what it calls a “brown bag special” meant to be used as a drug pipe — and it’s perfectly legal.

Customers at the station at 1914 State Road have been able to purchase a glass pipe disguised as a pen or other household item for $5.

A Tribune editor on Thursday brought two snack items to the checkout counter and requested “a brown bag special, please.”

Behind the counter, the cashier filled a small paper bag with a copper scrubber and a glass tube with the components of a ballpoint pen that when assembled wouldn’t write.

“There’s no logical reason to sell these items together other than the obvious — drug consumption,” said La Crosse police Capt. Jason Melby, who added the agency is aware of the items for sale.

A cashier later told the Tribune she had never heard of a “brown bag special.”

“What is that?” she said. “I have no idea about that.”

When told the Tribune captured the transaction on video, the cashier said the glass cylinder is a tobacco pipe and referred questions to the store’s owner.

The owner, who would not provide his name, said the business provides only beer and alcohol in brown bags. He then said the item sold was a pen that doubles as a tobacco pipe and accused the newspaper of discrimination. He then called police.

“We don’t have anything like a brown bag special,” he said before ending the call.

The property at 1914 State Road is owned by AKD Petroleum LLC of Thiensville, Wis., according to La Crosse County property tax records. The registered agent lives in Mequon.

With the copper scrubber serving as a filter, the glass tube functions as a pipe, which Melby said can be used to smoke methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.

“There is nothing illegal when these items are sold together until there is a drug introduced,” he said. “We find it disheartening that anyone would sell these items packaged together given the state of the drug problem within our community.”

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Anne Jungen covers law enforcement and the criminal justice system in La Crosse County. She joined the Tribune reporting staff in December 2005. You can contact her directly at ajungen@lacrossetribune.com or 608-791-8224.

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