Law Enforcement: Cops Go Phishing for Dope at Virginia Concerts, Reel in Plenty

The jam band Phish played a three-night show at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia, over the weekend -- their first appearance anywhere in five years -- but it was just like old times as local police and a surprising array of other law enforcement agencies arrested at least 267 people on drug charges and seized a reported $1.2 million worth of drugs. Hampton police reported 194 arrests, while police in neighboring Newport News reported 73 more.

Hampton police reported 81 felony arrests resulting in 119 charges and 113 misdemeanor arrests resulting in 126 charges. Newport News police didn't provide a breakdown of arrests, but said most resulted from operations targeting fans staying at local motels and hotels. The Newport News operation came "in anticipation of increased violations" of state drug laws, the department said, and a "majority of those arrested were Phish concert attendees."

Hampton police reported seizing marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy, and various prescription drugs, as well as $68,000 cash. Newport News police reported seizing 17 grams of cocaine, 369 grams of marijuana, and small amounts of hashish, mushrooms, methamphetamine, Ecstasy, and OxyContin.

Big bust numbers at Phish Shows in the Hampton Roads are nothing new. When the band played Virginia Beach in 1998, police arrested 136 people, and when the band returned for a one-night show at the Coliseum in 2004, 100 people got busted.

The concerts drew about 17,000 people each night, and with such a target-rich environment, local police called their colleagues to get in on the action. In addition to Hampton, Poquoson, and Newport News police, other agencies working the show included the Hampton Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the DEA, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Army's Criminal Investigations Division, and the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations.

Substance using or peddling Phish fans: You're not paranoid. They are after you.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Well, it's all relative...don't believe everything you read... the newspapers.

I was there all three nights and in the hotel district of Hampton. Yes, there may have been some big busts of dealers (the $68K seizure and the millions of dollars of "street value" cited appeared to relate to a truck seized that was filled with nitrous tanks).

But "substance using Phish fans...they are after you" spin of this blog is a HUGE exaggeration. There were 17,000 people each of three nights around the venue + another equal amount looking for tickets or hanging in the lots. A hundred busts of 50,000 people or so is no big deal.

Moreover, there was no or little security inside the venue, only a brief and perfunctory pat down at the doors the first night. This was nothing like those festivals that have had an obnoxious police presence (like Wakarusa in 2006 with high-tech surveillance, roadblocks at Bonnaroo and many other festivals or the State Police and drug dog filled Lake Placid arena a few years ago at Snow.down).

Phish, indeed, strikes a good balance between the needed security against the schwilliest drug vendors (like nitrous vendors) without unnecessary "zero tolerance" bullshit.


Hi, I dont feel its relevant to match the e% of busts. Any bust is one too many. sure there are swill drugs but that too is not a need to ARREST people. Zero tolerance for arrests is more like it Jak

Filthy DEA/Virginia

More criminal behavior from the criminal entity of the pusher of adulterated, misbranded cigarettes Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave over what a criminal apostate entity Virginia has become.

If any state is at the top of the list of those that ought to no longer disgrace a map, it is filthy Virginia.


If you throw a hippie pot-fest, the cops will come. Phish and their whole entourage just give the prohibitionists more ammo to use against us.

Even if I liked Phish (meh), or the Grateful Dead (puh-lease), I wouldn't attend their concerts because of the police presence.

I am sure it is good for businesss!!

Looks like a great way to promote tourism and entertainment! Phish may need to pick a more tolerant state, the next time around!

Phishing Cops

When americans got tired of this type of crap in 1776 they started shooting back. It's time to do the same thing again people. WAKE UP!!!

Sowing the Seeds of Discontent (and Civil Disobedience)

Cannabis drug reform was the top issue of concern for responders on the Obama administrations website. Non-violent arrests at a concert are only sowing more seeds of discontent among a growing population of citizens who are increasingly tired of this.

I suspect if local/state police forces continue to arrest folks for non-violent possession, this will only solidify the movement to decriminalize cannabis. So, in a sense, this news is *good* news for the Stop the Drug War cause.

Don't let this news anger you. Let it solidify your resolve in ending this unwinnable war on drugs.

crooked cops

these cops were not going by any rules this time and furthermore they let go 10 times these people arrested and kept theyre drugs for themselves.


get a life people. if you break the law infront of a cop what do you think will happen? jefferson rolls over in his grave because of your stupidity not because the cops are doin their jobs. its like the kid that gets bit in the face by the dog after you told him 30 times not to touch it. the kid then gets upset and wonders why it happened. here is an idea. dont smoke pot and you wont get arrested. wow what a concept.

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