An Interlude In Coachella Jail

Ed. Note: This is part of our sister papers LA Weekly and OC Weekly's coverage of the Coachella festival's just-concluded second weekend.

cops at coachella.jpg
Creative Commons
We told you earlier about the ways folks try to sneak drugs into Coachella. Also, we told you about how to avoid trouble with the police. But what if, despite your best efforts, you're arrested? Or even taken to Coachella jail? Yes, it is a real place.

We got the story on it from a guy we'll call Derek, who was arrested for possession of pot and cocaine in 2009. It went down like this:

It was 2 p.m. on the festival's first day that year, but Derek hadn't made it in yet. Returning to his campsite after using the bathroom, he entirely too stoned to notice a group of plain-clothed men rummaging through his belongings. One said they had a report of a man of his description selling pot.

"Well it wasn't me," Derek replied. They told him he looked nervous, so they searched him anyway, finding a few grams of pot and one gram of cocaine.

The men -- apparently undercover security -- threw Derek down on his stomach and held him down, he says. They cuffed him and then whisked him away on a golf cart, off toward Coachella jail. On the way, they stopped to pick up a middle aged "hippie-looking-dude," Derek recalls.

"Hey, I know you," Derek said. "You just tried to buy drugs from me while I was waiting by the bathroom."

Apparently, the guy was in cahoots with the rest of the undercovers. "Can you tell them I didn't sell you drugs?" Derek pleaded. He agreed, but it did no good. The journey to the slammer continued.

Coachella jail is -- or at least, when Derek was arrested, was -- an outdoor police area near Monroe and 51st. According to Derek, it was very hot and he wasn't given much water. After he was interrogated and processed, he was shipped off with other arrestees to Indio jail, a few miles away.

"Indio jail sucks," he says. "I do not recommend spending any time there."

Once inside the premises, Derek was led from room to room for a while. They took his mugshot, and he was sure to smile. He landed in a cell around 4 p.m. They gave him a wristband -- a different sort of wristband -- with his inmate number on it. He shared a cell with a large man laying on the floor and a German kid arrested at the festival for selling ecstasy.

Derek says the large man finally woke around 2 a.m. He proceeded to tell his fellow prisoners his story: Just before he was arrested (he didn't specify why) he stuck a ball of meth up his ass so the cops wouldn't find it.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

I went to Coachella this year and besides from the average pat down, I saw very little to no law enforcement. Experiencing several festivals in Australia, upon entering you regularly see at least 5 - 10 sniffer dogs at each entrance as well and 50-100 police officers with their gloves on eagerly awaiting to touch you!

If you get caught for anything at Coachella you deserve to be caught. How can you not avoid the limited security.

MadMac topcommenter

He's coked up and coming back for more. That settles any questions I had. I'm mos def too old for this.


Makes you wonder what they are going to do at the Summer Fest. It's still a young festival, so overzealous enforcement might sink the whole thing.


@H_e_x I think they are far more liberal during FPSF than they are at any time of the year.   Obviously, if you're standing in the middle of the crowd yelling "$5 FOR A BLUNT" you might attract the wrong interested party.   On other hand sitting in the shade on the hill listening to a band minding your own business ...


@idylwino @H_e_x The more liberal attitude has been there in the past. I've never had any problems with any of the Summer Fests in its short history. Gotta laugh at the $5 blunt guy, I'm sure he was there somewhere. I just wonder what the future holds, because the festival is becoming more and more commercial, so there might be pressure to clean it up a bit, even though it seems to be a pretty squeaky clean festival to me. I remember the signs out front, I'm not sure about last year but I remember the year before, mentioned that weed was a-ok to bring in. 

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault