Cooking Up Drug Charges with Smuggled Flour

all purpose flourWe could all probably have a hearty laugh over this little bit of keystone kops nonsense where a passenger was “caught” smuggling three condoms filled with flour (a gag squeeze toy meant as a stress reliever). Except they ended up throwing her in jail for 3 weeks after some sketchy testing declared the powder to be cocaine and opium (via The Agitator):

In the space of a few hours on Dec. 21, 2003, Janet Lee landed in a Philadelphia jail cell, where she would remain for three weeks, held on $500,000 bail and facing 20 years in prison on drug charges.

All over flour found in her luggage.

“I haven’t let myself be angry about what happened, because it would tear me apart,” Lee said. “I’m not sure I can bear to face it… . I’m amazed at how naive I was.”

That naivete, she said, began when screeners at Philadelphia International Airport inspecting her checked luggage found three condoms filled with white powder. Lee laughed and told city police they were filled with flour. It was just part of a phallic gag at a women’s college, she told them, a stress-reliever, something to squeeze while studying for exams.

The police didn’t find it funny. They told her a field test showed that the powder contained opium and cocaine.

A lab test later proved the substance was flour – and no one now disputes that Lee is innocent, including the prosecutor.

It’s simply amazing that the whole legal system thinks they can get off the hook with a “woops, my bad” through a shit-eating grin. I think what’s warranted here is an investigation into all prior arrests and convictions based on the results of that drug-testing machine. Who knows how many people are locked up for trace amounts of whatever thanks to some bogus test readings?

Update: If you’re like me and enjoy the puns that naturally come a-flowing from this story, check out this Philadelphia Inquirer editorial (which is actually a decent editorial as far as that goes as well):

No Gold Medal for the narcs … Some Pillsbury, though, perhaps. … a “stress reliever” cooked up in a dorm room gag

Reader comment: Robert notes the limited TSA involvement (I corrected the title, but can’t touch the URL):

TSA Screeners only found the suspicious substance. The matter was turned over to local law enforcement who brought the charges based on flawed testing.

7 Comments
  1. This shows how absurd the so-called “Drug War”
    has become.
    Guilty until proven innocent.
    I hope she gets some money out of this.
    Meanwhile real Drug Barons are out poolside with their
    hookers in Colombia while Janet Lee gets popped for
    flour. The Drug War has become just a War on the People.

  2. Ok, let’s keep some things in perspective here. This girl was going through airport security, which by the way loses their minds over nail clippers and bic lighters, with condoms filled with white powder. Now, yes the machine should be able to differentiate between flour and opiates or cocaine, but did anybody see the interviews with this girl? She looks baked out of her mind! I probably would have arrested her to.

  3. Tim: I should hope your neighbor’s never report you for suspicious activities, you might end up locked away for three weeks due to some weird proclivity to vacuum your living room at 3am or whatever else they could assume makes you look like a junkie.

  4. A few points:

    TSA Screeners only found the suspicious substance. The matter was turned over to local law enforcement who brought the charges based on flawed testing.

    For TIM:

    Nail clippers HAVE NEVER been prohibited. However if there was a knife intergral to the clippers … that (the knife .. not a nail file; also a never prohibited item)is prohibited.

    BIC lighters are BANNED BY LAW … congress passed a law that can’t be ignored. Guess they have nothing better to do than that! Complain to them.

  5. Robert, thanks for the catch, I had already changed the title to edit out the TSA link, but I’ll make a notation as well.

  6. You can’t accuse someone of being a druggie based on how he/she looks. I have known Janet since she was 7, and she’s just an average, CLEAN person.

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