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Woman claims agents disconnected surveillance cameras during raid on smoke shop

Mikael Thalen
May 13, 2014

A woman in Alpine, Texas has accused a DEA agent of smashing her neck with the butt of an M-16 rifle during a raid on her sister’s smoke shop.

Ilana Lipsen, owner of the Purple Zone, told reporters that the incident began when DEA agents confronted her sister as she attempted to open the store late last week. According to the DEA, Lipsen’s shop was targeted as part of a nationwide crackdown on “synthetic drugs.”

“She pulled up and they said, ‘Do you have the key?’ and there’s not a key for my property,” Lipsen told News West 9. “We have smart locks and they’re all on codes. She said, ‘I don’t have a key, but I have…’ and 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.’”

Lipsen says agents then entered her shop, disconnected her surveillance cameras and confiscated hard drives, cameras, cell phones and several firearms. Lipsen refutes claims by DEA agents that she was selling or in possession of any synthetic drugs.

“The only information that I could get was they were looking for some type of document,” Lipsen said. “I said, ‘Well, could you please tell me what kind of document that you’re looking for and I can help you?’ But they wouldn’t give me any information.”

As Lipsen’s sister watched from the sidewalk, one agent reportedly approached and demanded she leave the area, prompting her to ask, “What are you going to do, shoot me?”

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“He grabbed her by the shoulders and started roughhousing her,” Lipsen said. “My sister has never been arrested, has never had any other problems and she was terrified.”

Lipsen says the situation grew worse after her sister flinched, causing the agent to become even more violent.

“At that moment, he took his foot and tripped her to get her off of her feet and have her down to the ground. One of her feet came flying up and accidentally hit him in the shin,” Lipsen said. “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.”

Lipsen’s sister was then handcuffed by one agent as another reportedly grabbed her by her neck.

“She was yelling, ‘Get off of me. You’re hurting me. You’re choking me.’ He had his hand around her neck as he was holding her face into the ground of the neighbors property,” Lipsen said.

The DEA denied all allegations and claimed the blood on scene was from an agent who accidentally cut himself while breaking down the store’s door. Although the DEA did confirm the arrest and assault charge, no explanation was given over how Lipsen’s sister received the large wound on her neck.

The sisters were charged with three felonies for selling an illegal substance, charges both sisters deny.

While both parties deny the other’s claims, the issue at large continues to be the militarization of law enforcement through the failed war on drugs.