Thousands of ecstasy pills were seized the Midnight Music Festival, held at Sydney Showground on Saturday. A total of 187 people out of the total 14,000 were searched through at a massive police operation, including sniffer dogs, and one 21-year-old woman was caught with 1600 MDMA capsules, alongside two other women carrying 550 and 200 tablets.
“We saw more drugs seized today than recent events, one of the largest we’ve seen, which clearly shows our messaging is not getting through,” said Detective Chief Inspector Gus Viera, commander of the South West Metropolitan Region.
From January to May of 2018, police conducted 735 searches, with 63 percent resulting in drugs found, as indicated by sniffer dogs. The rate of strip searches has doubled over in 2018, where hundreds of festivals have been faced with searches as part of their process of entry.
Under the law, police can only conduct a strip search if there are severe and urgent grounds to do so. Still, due to the increase in drug-related incidents at music festivals, NSW police announced they would conduct a sniffer dog approach at festivals back in June, resulting in people refused to enter if the drug dog indicated if they had substances on them.
“I am extremely disappointed with these results; however, we will continue to conduct these operations at upcoming festivals throughout the year,” said Viera. “Those intent on bringing illicit drugs into these events will be caught, charged, and put before the courts.”
At the Midnight Music Festival, a 25-year-old woman alongside three others was rushed to the hospital for drug-related health issues. Hundreds of festival-goers during the festival also reported to paramedics for drug-related health issues due to the lack of MDMA Test Kit testing onsite..
However, many festival-goers were also denied entry to the event, even after police searched them with nothing incriminating on them. One festival-goer went to social media to tell their story, claiming that the police and venue are involved in the policy and that she was given separate answers about who placed the new rule in. According to Sniff Out, an anti-drug dog campaign, only 45 out of the 187 people were found with drugs at the festival.
“I’ve had people get searched at the same venue and get let back in, but last night it was absolute no entry back inside even if found nothing on you because ‘they’re not willing to take that risk,’ wrote the festival-goer on Facebook. “Most times the dogs don’t even sit or are commanded to sit which is absolutely bulls**t. People being falsely detected shouldn’t have to be punished.”