About 150 people were arrested and a large variety and volume of illegal drugs were seized Thursday through Saturday during a rock music event called Gnarnia the Festival at Beech Mountain Ski Resort.
The Avery and Watauga county sheriff’s departments, Avery County Municipal Drug Task Force, Banner Elk and Boone police departments, N.C. Highway Patrol and N.C. Alcohol Enforcement (ALE) filed about 300 charges, mostly felonies, and made about 150 arrests during the event, according to a press release from the Beech Mountain Police Department.
The press release said about 4,500 people attended the event, which was held for the first time in Beech Mountain.
“Huge quantities of illegal drugs were seized in the process, including cocaine, heroin, Ketamine (animal tranquilizer with hallucinogenic and memory loss effects), DMT (synthetic version of a South American shamanistic psychedelic drug), MDMA (Ecstasy), marijuana, hundreds of dosage units of LSD, bath salts, several pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, four large containers of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), hashish, and numerous prescription drugs such as Valium, Xanax, Suboxone, Adderall, Ritalin and Clonazepam,” the press release stated.
Capt. Jerry Turbyfill of the Beech Mountain Police Department said state and undercover officers made arrests where the event was being held and that county and town officers made arrests nearby, mostly at traffic stops.
Turbyfill said that although held at Beech Mountain Ski Resort, the event was organized by another private entity. He said Beech Mountain police requested assistance from other law enforcement agencies in advance.
ALE agents alone arrested 108 people on 258 drug charges, including 39 people on about 100 felony offenses, at the festival
According to an ALE news release, ALE agents focused on sellers, distributors and traffickers of controlled substances like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA (Ecstacy), heroin, cocaine, Ketamine, marijuana and various pills. ALE agents also seized drug paraphernalia and cash.
Four men, from Arkansas, Florida, California and Louisa, Va., were arrested for trafficking in MDMA, cocaine, LSD or Oxycodone.
“Dangerous psychedelic drugs were being sold and distributed prior to and during the event,” said ALE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brad Putnam. “Many of the arrests were made before the festival started.”
ALE Special Agent in Charge David Ashley said the agency wanted to keep controlled substances from being distributed in the area and prevent problems due to use of illegal substances.