Yeah, DEA Agents Are Stalking You at Raves
Nocturnal Wonderland 2013 by Timothy Norris/L.A. Weekly
If you're feeling a little paranoid the next time you're at a rave, maybe it isn't just the drugs talking.
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency could very well be stalking you.
At Nocturnal Wonderland in Devore over Labor Day weekend, DEA agents made five drug-related arrests, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman told us.
"I can confirm our Riverside DEA office did indeed assist the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office with enforcement activities at the festival," said DEA spokesman Timothy Massino.
He warned that this could be more common, given the high-profile deaths that have taken place at electronic dance music events in Southern California and Las Vegas in recent years.
"There's clearly a huge synthetic drug problem in the scene," Massino said. "It's rampantly distributed. Based on the increased prevalence of the stuff, I could see being asked to do this more often — to come out and assist with these operations."
It's not the first time undercover narcotics officers have been hunting for ecstasy at dance music events.
In 2013 the annual Lightning in a Bottle was attended by undercover deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Special Investigations Bureau. Fifty-eight arrests were made.
"The state and local agencies are cracking down," Massino told us. "If they invite us, odds are we're going to come play."
In August, 18-year-old Tracy Nguyen of West Covina and 19-year-old Katie Dix of Camarillo died of suspected drug overdoses after attending the Hard Summer festival at the Pomona Fairplex.
In 2014, 19-year-old Emily Tran died of "acute MDMA intoxication" after she attended Hard Summer, a coroner's official said.
After the August deaths, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors weighed a ban on such events at county facilities such as the Fairplex. Hard canceled a party scheduled for this month, and it agreed to scale down its Halloween event.
Sheriff's officials say there were about 300 arrests at the three-day, 20th-anniversary Nocturnal Wonderland, which featured top DJs such as Armin Van Buuren, Alesso, Afrojack and more at the San Manuel Amphitheater.
The Labor Day Weekend party reportedly drew about 85,000 people each day.
Ninety-three arrests were drug-related, including 63 for alleged possession and 30 for alleged possession for sales, according to the San Bernardino department.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control also had law enforcers at the party, Bachman of the sheriff's department said. They made 32 drug- and alcohol-related arrests, she said.
Thirty-two people required hospitalization, Bachman said. Two were taken by helicopter.
"One subject remains hospitalized but we don’t have additional info on their medical issues," she said. There were "no reported deaths."
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