Considering the debilitating effects of the illegal substances authorities contend were to be smoked in the pipes put on display Thursday, the bowl designs that predominated were especially macabre.
There were skulls with swords thrust through them, skulls with roses and, of course, skulls with crossbones.
But there were also fat ceramic trolls labeled "party potato"; crazy curlicues of delicately blown, tinted glass; hundreds of simple, straight tubes with fluted ends, and a two-foot-tall acrylic "double bong," decorated with flower decals.
The pipes, laid out on tables and boxes in the lobby of the U.S. Customs office on Terminal Island, were part of what a customs official called one of the largest seizures of drug paraphernalia ever in the United States.
Roger Urbanski, U.S. Customs special agent in charge of the Los Angeles area, said the pipes were among three big-rig truckloads of items confiscated Tuesday morning when federal agents and Vernon police officers raided two businesses in Vernon.