The owner of a controversial El Paso bar is speaking out about a drug search involving federal agents at his mother's lower valley home.
"The average person would say, 'I'm embarrassed, I'm scared. What are people going to think?'" said Mike Armstrong, owner of the Three Legged Monkey.
But Armstrong isn't your average person. He's been battling negative publicity and a city council-backed push to terminate his bar's lease for years now.
Just last month, the Three Legged Monkey made headlines after a deadly Fort Bliss soldier-involved shooting outside the bar. Armstrong said the shooter, not the bar, should be blamed for the violence.
"My business is my business and I understand the city wants to close me, but when they go ahead and start with these bullying tactics involving my family, that's a completely different story," Armstrong told ABC-7.
The "different story" he's referring to involves a February 24th suspected drug dealer round-up by multiple federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Armstrong said that's when federal agents blocked off the streets surrounding his mother's Lower Valley home where he lives and asked to search the inside.
"These gentlemen came in with their machine guns. They said they'd gotten an anonymous tip that we were suspected of having or dealing drugs. They realized really quickly that there was nothing of the sort in the house," said Armstrong.
Armstrong said the agents spent about two hours at his home, then asked to search his bar, too. Neither search turned up anything illegal.
According to Armstrong, "One of the agents said, 'We could do something a whole lot more intrusive, you know, we could tap your phone lines or we could follow you around,' and I told him, 'I wish you would have done that so you could have seen there is no credibility to this anonymous tip.'"
ABC-7 spoke with Phil Jordan, former El Paso DEA chief about the searched. He said they were perfectly legal, though somewhat unusual based on Armstrong's claims.
"You can not just search a house on an anonymous tip," said Johnson in a phone interview. "I don't think that's very common. Normally if we have a suspicion and there's a time element involved, you can ask (for a search) but the homeowner is protected by the constitution. (Armstrong) gave up his rights and allowed agents or police to search his house when he said 'Yes, search my house, I have nothing to hide.'"
Still, Armstrong said he doesn't think this was a case of misguided information, but rather one of misplaced animosity. "I'm not going to be bullied. I think this has gone too far," said Armstrong.
El Paso's current DEA spokeswoman told ABC-7 that the agency has an obligation to follow up on any information they get regarding illegal activity. She also said agents later met with members of the Armstrong family to explain their reasoning behind the search.