Security measures at Coachella are getting a drastic overhaul this year, according to new documents provided by Edward Snowden. In addition to standard pat-downs and searches, patrons will be subjected to intrusive cavity searches, outsourced security teams, and unmanned aerial vehicles searching out illicit drug use.
Secret files given to the Weekly by Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor granted temporary asylum in Russia, reveal that security officials at Coachella gates are cleared for much more thorough drug searches, including the insides of previously off-limits orifices.
Guards at the festival, which takes place in Indio starting April 11, will require anyone with a backpack to turn it completely inside out. All liquids, breath mints, candies and lip balms are banned, and drug-sniffing dogs will individually examine all jackets, boots, hats and spirit hoodies.
Perhaps most disturbingly, however, guards are permitted, at their discretion, to do exhaustive pat-downs, including of patrons' genital areas. If at this point officials still suspect the presence of drugs, they are next allowed to probe the anal cavity, though they are encouraged to use this method “sparingly.”
Despite these measures, if anyone manages to somehow still get drugs inside the Empire Polo Club, they risk being caught in the act from above by small, circulating aerial vehicles – also known as drones.
Manned remotely by an off-site team of Minutemen Project volunteers based near the Mexican border, the drones' high-definition video cameras will collect evidence against those using illicit substances.
Further, the units will be outfitted with a just-patented “smell technology,” able to detect the scent of marijuana from over 1,000 feet away. The operator then has the ability to activate the device's lasers, which can shoot out of the sky with pinpoint accuracy and instantly vaporize any unauthorized material. (Apparently, officials haven't received the memo that “vaping” is now cool.)
But perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the new security measures is the auxiliary team the festival has recruited to help patrol the grounds.
Operating out of the Los Angeles underground in a decades-old black GMC van, the four-man group is composed of persecuted former U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers who now seek their fortune while on the run from the law. Sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit, they are still wanted by the government.
Though their '80s fashions have largely come back into style, it is unclear how the crew's military training will assist them in apprehending drug suspects – in this case largely suburban, Caucasian girls between the ages of 14 and 19. But these unorthodox tactics seem to be a result of Coachella's desperate attempts to win favor with the largely conservative communities surrounding the festival.
“We had a problem, and no one else could help,” festival founder Paul Tollett said. “So we thought, 'If we can find them, maybe we can hire the A-Team.'”