Keene shop reopens after DEA raid
KEENE — Phat Stuff reopened Friday after a federal raid of the downtown head shop closed it for two days.
Phat Stuff at 84 Main St. was included in a Drug Enforcement Administration nationwide synthetic drug raid Wednesday.
About a dozen DEA agents occupied the store from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and filled a U-Haul truck full of evidence, much of which was store merchandise.
Wednesday DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said the agency was targeting every level of the designer synthetic drug market in the U.S., from wholesalers, retailers to manufacturers. Phat Stuff was one of more than 200 locations in 29 states searched by the DEA Wednesday.
On Friday Payne said he could not comment on the Keene raid, saying it is his understanding the investigation of Phat Stuff is currently under a federal seal. Even arrests as a result of the search could be under seal, he said.
At Phat Stuff on Saturday, store owner Panos Eliopoulos was working in his glass blowing studio in the store making glass pipes to replenish his stock.
Store employee Evan Prokowich said Saturday he is not aware of any arrests and said Eliopoulos and employees on legal advice are not commenting on the matter right now.
“We’re still basically in the dark,” Prokowich said.
On Wednesday Prokowich said the store had done nothing wrong, but had been presented with a document by the DEA that said products such as bongs and water pipes and any other devices uses to inhale or ingest illegal drugs would be seized. Prokowich said all of those devices are for tobacco use only.
Prokowich said the shop had sold “herbal incense” products in the past, but stopped when the city banned it.
During the DEA raid on Wednesday members of Free Keene videotaped the DEA agents filling the U-Haul truck and criticized agents for taking away the store owner’s livelihood.
On Sunday Free Keene blogger Ian Freeman said, “I think it’s outrageous that a peaceful business that has been open for — as I understand it — about 12 years has had almost their entire inventory stolen. … It seems just like armed robbery to me and I hope people stop putting up with it eventually.”