Jolly Roger: Drake Students Part of Tahoe Drug Bust

Around ten Drake students were involved in a ski bus trip that ended with the police getting involved over the winter break.


At The Jolly Roger Corner, you get a glimpse into Drake's oldest high school newspaper The Jolly Roger. These stories are written by Drake students, published in the Jolly Roger, and republished here with permission. Check out more articles, photos, reviews and insight into our local school at drakejr.com.



Bay Area teens on their way to the slopes at the end of Decmber were caught with more than just gloves and long johns. Packed in with their snow gear, students brought alcohol and drugs like marijuana and mushrooms.

The trip was managed by Summer Winter Action Tours (SWAT). In total, there were 30 buses and 2000 students headed to Utah, supervised by staff members who “were [all] young college students who joined right in on the partying with us,” said Drake senior Jenny Domash.

“As soon as we got on the bus to leave for Utah, they told us how we would be making stops where people could get off and smoke pot and get some [alcohol],” she said.

Five tour buses carrying teens from the Bay Area stopped for dinner in Elko, Nevada. “Some kids decided [to ask] a man to buy them liquor and he called the cops in response,” Domash said. Afterward, six police cruisers arrived on the scene with drug-sniffing dogs.

Police asked for the teens’ possessions and stated that they would search the bus. Drake senior Morgan Clymer said, “They […] said that if we didn’t turn over any drugs or alcohol we had, they were going to send everyone home.” Some teens surrendered the drugs voluntarily. Domash explained that most people didn’t want to give up their possessions and contemplated where they could hide everything without the cops or dogs finding them.

“The only loss was most of the people’s, including the staff’s, narcotics,” said Domash. She also stated that the police were completely oblivious to all the liquor and marijuana still aboard the bus, plus whatever was on the other 25 buses coming from different areas.

None of the teens got in trouble with the staff, who were described by Domash as very lenient and even encouraged students to drink and smoke before arriving in Utah. There were no consequences from authorities either. The police stated that no single person possessed enough drugs to be charged with a felony.

Elko’s juvenile detention center only holds around 30 kids, so police saw no point in making over 250 arrests on misdemeanor charges.

“We could have stopped and got search warrants, searched every bag, and we would have still be writing search warrants a week later because it takes so much time to do that,” said Chief Dom Zumwalt in an article on KSL.com.

However, Elko police have started to investigate the bus company, Divine Transportation, and SWAT. The Elko police said that if an event like this occurs again, the drivers could be arrested for endangering teens and transporting drugs across state lines. In addition, the buses would be seized.

Zumwalt said that this isn’t the first time an event similar to this happened; another SWAT bust happened last year. Some of the parents even sued Divine Transportation and Summer Winter Action Tours for negligence. Those parents believe something similar may happen in the future.

Domash described the trip as poorly managed and “basically a festival of drugs and hangovers.” She said about a quarter of the people on the trip became sick at some point from excess drinking and many were sent to the 24-hour room, which was a room teens were sent to recover from their hangovers.

Domash said that during the last two days they went to a place called Club Sound which she describes as “Friction on steroids.” Clymer agreed, saying that, “At times, you could definitely say it was out of control.”

Despite the bus searches, only about 20 teens were sent home. The rest stayed to experience the slopes.

Do you think there should have been more consequences for the kids or the tour company? Did you participate in this trip? Would you send your kid away on a trip like this?

Brad Popsiclestick February 17, 2012 at 08:56 PM
I'm just glad I was a kid in the 70s and 80s and not now.
shanty February 20, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I am thankful no one died. This is so shocking to me about the people "in charge" I wonder if the Bus Driver was invited to participate.....


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