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Observer Radio Episode 69: How an Alpine Smoke Shop Became a National Civil Liberties Cause

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Purple Zone merchandise on the shelves.
Tom Cochran
Merchandise on display at the Purple Zone in Alpine, TX.
  • 1bimbo

    ‘she’s like all other business owners, trying to make a buck’ ?? she’s a drug peddler! .. and people don’t move to west texas to ‘get away from federal overreach’.. all of texas is resistant to federal overreach other than the big dumb blue cities like austin, houston and san antonio.. this woman sounds like a zombie and a compulsive liar most likely her brain fried by her own supply.. this is not a ‘civil liberties’ issue.. there is no ‘right’ to sell poison.. here’s and example of how products like the ones she sells spread across texas and endanger lives

  • Steve Elfring

    The owner may be guilty or innocent. I live in Alpine and the issue is ham handed federal agents and agencies. There were no few than four federal agencies involved in the raid along with Brewster County Sheriffs Office and Alpine police. As mentioned in the piece this was all part of a national federal effort and local feds were not going to stand by flat footed so they had to be part of the “national federal show”. The only target in town was Purple Zone. They went in guns and “balls out” and got caught on camera in the process. If you live anywhere in the border zone it feels like an occupied country occupied by federal policing agencies. The borderlands have not been this occupied by military since the Mexican revolution.

In this episode of Observer Radio, staff writer Patrick Michels tells the tale of a controversial Alpine smoke shop swept up by the federal government's zeal to snuff out synthetic drugs.

Former Observer managing editor Chris Tomlinson joins us via phone to discuss his first book, Tomlinson Hill. In it, he tells the story of two families—one white, one black—that trace their roots back to a Texas slave plantation.

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