ALPINE, TX — Federal agents violently raided a tobacco shop, unnecessarily broke down a door, tampered with surveillance cameras, and allegedly cracked a woman in the neck with a rifle stock. In the process, they also raided a neighbor’s home, only to later cover their tracks by acquiring a warrant retroactively. The carnival of injustice was completed when witnesses were ordered to recant their stories under penalty of law.
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‘Break it down’
The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began systematically performing raids across the country on Wednesday, May 7th, as part of a nationwide effort to crackdown on synthetic drugs. Over 200 search warrants in 29 states were performed as part of what was called “Project Synergy Phase II.”
One of the warrants served during the course of the operation was on a tobacco shop in Alpine, Texas. Known as the Purple Zone, the 9-year-old establishment serves the community with tobacco products, jewelry, and a hooka lounge.
DEA agents arrived at the store before 10:00 a.m., surprising the owner, Ilana Lipsen, before business hours. Ariel Lipsen, the owner’s sister, was also present outside the store when agents arrived.
“Do you have the key?” Ilana recalled agents demanding of her sister. She tried to explain that the doors don’t use keys, they use codes. But, according to the owner, “at that exact moment, one of the officers said, ‘Break it down.’ It didn’t give her a chance to say, ‘I have a code.’”
Agents were ready with a steel battering ram, but were sure to first disconnect the surveillance cameras and face them toward the walls, before smashing in the door.
Officers tore apart the store, confiscating computers, paperwork, hard drives, cell phones, and firearms. The DEA was supposedly looking for synthetic marijuana.
‘What are you going to do, shoot me?’
As the looting continued, Ariel was told by agents to leave the property. Ilana says her sister was standing on the sidewalk, and responded to the agent, “What are you going to do, shoot me?”
Ariel’s incredulity drew the ire of the power-tripping DEA agent. The agent began to grapple with the woman, and allegedly performed a leg-sweep, driving her into the ground.
“At that moment, he took his foot and tripped her to get her off of her feet and have her down to the ground,” Ilana said to NewsWest-9. “One of her feet came flying up and accidentally hit him in the shin. At that time he started saying, ‘Well now you’re assaulting a police officer.’ And he started attacking her more. He took the butt of his M-16 rifle and smashed it into her neck.”
“She was yelling, ‘Get off of me. You’re hurting me. You’re choking me,’” Ilana recalled. “He had his hand around her neck as he was holding her face into the ground of the neighbor’s property.”
Ilana and Ariel Lipsen were both arrested.