This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A video published on July 10, shows a dealer in a tent at a music festival crying as he confesses that the cocaine he’d been selling had fentanyl in it.
“Today, for the first time, unknown to me, I had something that could really, really harm someone,” he says to the camera, “And I had no fucking idea.”
“Something I had came back positive for fentanyl,” the dealer says, hanging his head as he holds up a testing kit for fentanyl. The dealer’s identity is concealed through blurring and voice-changing.
The two-minute piece ends with the dealer throwing out drugs in a porta-potty. Ultimately, he disposed of an estimated 50-70 one-gram baggies—worth thousands of dollars—according to the Bunk Police, which released the video.
“Please be aware. It doesn’t matter if you know who you got it from. It doesn’t matter if they know exactly where it comes from. It’s not us; it’s something else, and this is a big problem,” the dealer says.
The vigilante harm reduction group the Bunk Police released the video described above with the dealer’s permission. It was taken at Electric Forest in Michigan the second weekend of the music festival (June 28–July 1), according to Adam Auctor, founder of Bunk Police.
“I thought it was important that people saw the type of situation we’re dealing with here, and the type of person we’re dealing with,” Auctor told VICE. The dealer disposed of the drugs after Bunk Police recommended he do so following multiple positive tests for fentanyl.
Bunk Police sell drug-checking kits, including those that test for fentanyl, at events and online. It’s one of the biggest drug-checking kit suppliers in the world. The group will show up at festivals with or without permission—meaning its members sometimes are kicked out by events and even risk facing charges.
At Electric Forest this year, the group employed a text-message alert system. It was set up to tell those who subscribed to it when the group was selling kits on site; alert if they were shut down by security; and, critically, to warn about adulterated substances when necessary. The group doesn’t test drugs themselves, but tells people how to test their own substances.
Auctor said fentanyl has been on Bunk Police’s radar since 2013.
“I think a lot of people in the scene would think an adulterated substance like this would come from outside of the culture—somebody that is just there to blindly profit off of them and leave the first day without being a part of what’s going on,” Auctor said. “But that wasn’t the case.”
“This is somebody who dresses like them, talks like them, goes to the exact same events, and participates in the same way they do,” Auctor explained.
What happened with the dealer at this festival is not a normal scenario for Bunk Police. But, Auctor said they’d been getting “a flurry of emails” from attendees at a specific camping area about positive fentanyl tests in product from a dealer who was selling purported cocaine.
He received a phone call that ended up connecting him with the dealer.
“Apparently, this dude is hiding in his tent trying desperately to get ahold of anyone from the Bunk Police as he's found himself in a world of shit,” Auctor wrote on Reddit. He said the dealer’s photo was already circulating on social media—not Bunk Police’s doing—and people were “trying to hunt him down.”
Auctor considered sending out a description of the dealer in question through their text alert system prior to meeting up with him, but ultimately did not. “Mob mentality” and the potential for false IDing are major issues that could come up in that scenario, Auctor said.
“Luckily for him, he was able to reach me right before I sent out that alert.” The product the dealer had been selling as cocaine also turned up positive for meth.
Bunk Police is currently seeking input from the communities it works within to determine what action should be taken should a similar problem come up again.
“We kept pandora's box mostly closed this time around, but it's clear we'll need to crack it wide open in the future,” Auctor said in his Reddit post about the incident.
The dealer reportedly made contact with his source and "took care of it” following the incident. According to Bunk Police, afterward, he bought fentanyl-testing kits in bulk and distributed them throughout the weekend at the festival.
VICE has reached out to Electric Forest for comment, which has yet to respond.
Auctor said Bunk Police will be back at Electric Forest next year—whether it’s in an official sense or not.
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