A rogue prosecutor makes the war on drugs personal.
On the morning of May 7, a law enforcement team headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) broke down the door of The Purple Zone, a smoke shop in the small, rural community of Alpine, Texas, owned by 29-year-old Ilana Lipsen. With their weapons drawn, officers pointed the security cameras at the wall and tore apart the store. Lipsen’s sister, Arielle, who happened to be on the premises, was pinned to the ground by the butt of one agent’s rifle, according to witnesses.
Next, DEA officers raided a nearby apartment also owned by Lipsen. When her tenant, Nicholas Branson, asked to see a search warrant (which they didn’t have), a gun-wielding agent reportedly replied, “What are you, a fucking lawyer?”
No illegal substances turned up at either the store or the apartment.
Why did the government go after The Purple Zone? The DEA says the raid was one in a series of nationwide enforcement actions carried out that day with the goal of taking down purveyors of synthetic drugs who funnel their proceeds to Middle Eastern terrorists. It also says that Lipsen was a prime suspect. But as a Jew and avid supporter of Israel, she hardly fits the profile of an Islamic terrorism financier.
A more likely reason: Brewster County District Attorney Rod Ponton is Lipsen’s jilted ex-lover, and has been carrying out a personal vendetta against her for the past few years.