Skip to content
Log In | Sign Up Connect

What’s your story?

Share and find customer experiences

Connect with the people behind them

Wacktrap is
feedback made social

Post Your Wack Now

Trending Content


250 Teens 5 Buses 2 Lbs Pot 1 Ski Trip Busted as SWAT El Nino Party Stash Seized

| Share

by editor

editor's picture
In The News

It was catch and release for 250 kids, 5 buses, 1 ski trip--and a pound or two of weed found on busloads bound for Utah. Apparently it's the ski team with a pipe dream. Or just the average teenager. Nevada's no-tolerance laws for drugs meant kids had to ditch their stash and precious pipes. But teens kept tweeting about a drug-induced haze, even after the cops' confiscation. Maybe the dogs' noses became overwhelmed.

It's the annual SWAT Trips event called El Nino 2011 and involving high school students from almost 135 California and Nevada schools. Joining in for the El Nino high school trip is 67 schools spread among Los Angeles, Orange County, Temecula, 27 schools in San Diego, and 40 schools in Northern California -- plus a few from Arizona. Tickets aren't cheap, and the trip includes nighttime events including music and stuff like a white party.

It's a 'ski trip' packed with memories -- or at least partial memories -- of a lifetime. Packed powder, beautiful runs, 250 of your closest friends, time away from parents, drugs -- and, well, time away from parents. After-slope parties include DJs and a packed house. Certainly no drug use there. In the online chat related to the infamous SWAT trips, one potential attendee says "I'm going [to El Nino]... as long as I can convince my parents it isn't all just one big party." And yet a party is exactly what it seems to be. And parties involve extra-curricular activities -- even as teenagers or, more accurately, particularly with teenagers.

The So Cal company who runs the ski and snowboard tours dubs the event "the largest high school ski and snowboard trip in the nation." And, with all those kids, of course that means it's also bound to be the most "plentiful". Call it the 'Cabo' of Utah.

It ain't the first time there's been a ski trip bust involving the same Southern California-based company responsible for arranging transport to the slopes. The oh-so-cleverly-named "SWAT", or Summer-Winter-Action-Tours, in Costa Mesa is responsible for running the annual high school trips to Utah mountains and buses destined for Salt Lake City during the height of the season.

Before the 2011 bust, it's the same company's buses to have been nabbed en route prior -- grabbed by cops, while headed for those slopes, just last year in 2010.

With the 2011 confiscation being the second time around that teens have been caught with pot and pipes -- among other things -- logic would say the kids might've been a bit smarter this year. But maybe teens just aren't that smart. After all, a number from the busload were sending public tweets -- not just about the bust in general, but about the amount of drugs carried or already consumed.

Elko law enforcement claims a tip -- supposedly that teenagers were smoking marijuana -- led to the stop. Yes, of course. Some kid on board must have suddenly placed a call. That also explains how drug dogs were ready and waiting to search onboard. It couldn't have been that cops were ready and waiting after last year's bust. Unless that supposed tip is related to the report that all the kids were asked to exit the buses after some were allegedly busted while smoking out at an Elko, Nevada, rest stop.

Nevada cops confiscated huge quantities of marijuana -- at least a pound or two -- and lots of related stuff, like pipes, bongs, lighters, cigs and booze from teenagers traveling on buses from California. Despite the confiscation, police in Elko, Nevada are taking a lot of flak. Some parents think the law should've done more. Others think the arranging company should've done more. Nevada cops pointed out that process could've taken a lot longer. Or, translation, not really happened at all. There would've been no way to process massive quantities of teenagers. And it would've taken a really, really long time.

The thing is, cops kind of created a problem for themselves. Law enforcement seems to be insinuating to the media that parents are more upset with the bus company. But parents seem to be a bit upset with police -- along with the idea that officers should've done more than throw the goods in a pile for confiscation. Officers however took on a big job in deciding to stop 250 people: It can be hard enough to prove possession against one single person, let alone a busload. Or, say, five busloads. Dogs may have found the pot but proving its owners is a whole 'nother ballgame. There's also the issue involving search warrants, which may have cost days -- or even a week.

And then there's the other small problem: Elko is small. And so are its facilities. Legal charges would've been misdemeanors, not a felony, so the task of processing huge quantities of teens is not only a daunting idea for law enforcement -- but simply an impossible one.

The spot in Nevada has just one juvenile lock-up. It kind of holds only 20 beds or 28 people -- maximum. That's just roughly ten percent of the size of the group traveling. So cops did the next best thing, which could also prove the next best thing for those on board and legal issues: Officers seized the drugs and stuff before letting the group move onward and upward. That may have worked fine had some embarrassing follow-up tweets not ensued, those tweets carrying the insinuation that some of the cache may have missed attention of officers. And while police may have nabbed a pound or more in weed in addition to other party-related or mind-altering substances, the media's grabbed the story -- meaning the ski trip's not going quite as planned. SWAT may have garnered way more attention for itself than could prove good for the company. The spotlight is on.

Angry parents have kids who are now basically on lockdown, not vacation -- as reporters and journalists allegedly surround the Salt Lake City hotel after reports of the bust en route.

And there's a little-known and lesser-discussed 'kicker' to this story which may prove why drug use could run rampant on a trip packed with teenagae skiiers and snowboarders: Yes, there were chaperones. No, they're probably not what parents or adults would consider the best form of surveillance. And probably not what parents expected.

First there's the gripe regarding only two chaperones as assigned per 50 kids on the trip. That means roughly 10 chaperones watching over a boatload of teenagers. A ration of 1:25 isn't a particularly good one. But it's far less of a problem than having an eighteen-year-old oversee your kids.

That's right: They may technically be 'adult' by law, but those responsible for overseeing a trip of over two hundred kids are just barely past the height of teenage status themselves. Apparently they do know what a year's age difference means in the eyes of the law, though: Witnesses say the, quote, chaperones, kind of disappeared when cops began arriving on scene in Nevada. It makes sense of course. Who wants to be the adult, supposedly responsible for underage kids, busted on drug charges yourself. Probably wiser to melt into the background -- or vacate. Or find a new home.

Angry parents haven't gotten too much of a response so far from SWAT over its El Nino 2011 event. The organizers who took the cash seem to be claiming no liability, instead citing a contract that refers to parents being responsible for searching or checking kids' bags before boarding the buses for Utah. But of course that leads to one small problem: Parents can't search other kids' bags. And pot has a tendency to spread quickly regardless of origin.

The SWAT company behind arranging bus transport isn't talking a whole lot. After December 29th's pot seizure, the company promised a future statement "shortly". No word on how time flies in that neck of the woods, but it still hasn't happened. In the interim the Costa Mesa company is accused of ducking phone calls from the media or reporters. A company-issued email claims press reports have been inaccurate, but doesn't claim how or why.

If parents are worried or fearful about safety of those blood relations on board, apparently they shouldn't be. Not if SWAT eases their minds. SWAT has issued a company message that promises: "Your students [sic] safety is our [SWAT] number one priority and we will be doing our best to ensure your son/daughter gets home safely." Oh, well -- now everyone can breathe easy, knowing the company isn't ensuring that sons and daughters will get home safely -- just that an employee or two is "doing their best" to aid in that theory.

SWAT claims more than 140,000 "satisfied customers" over the past 14 years. Of course that isn't so hard to do with teenagers. They tend to be satisfied with any concept involving freedom and lack of supervision. Video of last year's SWAT extravaganza -- and nighttime club parties -- shows the event in full effect. And the related comments posted afterward, like "cant believe i won that snow board! i was fucked up during that shot!" or "hah the bus is sooooo cloudy." Plain and to the point is: "HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL YEA@!!@!@@@!@!@! im down to get fucked up and snowboard for 2 days." It seems no one's exactly shy about expressing planned drug use on SWAT trips.

Everyone's angry. Or the adults are, anyway. The kids are probably more concerned about scoring replacement weed in order to finish off that trip. And as for those chaperones -- well, they may show up somewhere, far, far from Nevada.


Summer-Winter-Action-Tours (SWAT Trips)
245 Fischer Ave # D2
Costa Mesa, CA 92626-4539
United States
Phone: (714) 955-6900
33° 40' 33.6108" N, 117° 52' 50.1888" W
| Share
Average: 5 (1 vote)