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Ski Trip Drug Cache Confiscated; Anxious Lamorinda Parents Await News of Teens

No one knows for sure (or will say) who the drugs belonged to but a substantial amount of marijuana and paraphernalia was confiscated from a bus caravan of local kids bound for a ski trip in Utah.

It's all over the six o'clock news and wire services and Patch parents are writing with a cold fury after a bus caravan carrying teens from all three Lamorinda high schools and other parts of the Bay Area was stopped in Nevada and an impressive amount of drugs confiscated.

About 250 teens -- including several from Lamorinda schools -- were asked to step off their bus caravan at a rest stop in Elko, Nevada after witnesses spotted some members of the group smoking pot in the parking lot. A local sheriff responded, realized he had more kids than he could safely incarcerate, and settled for confiscating the drugs -- weighing in at nearly two pounds worth of Rocky Mountain High.

Local parents are not happy.

"I now know that the kids are being on lock down in their hotels because the media and reporters are outside of their Hotel in Utah," wrote the parent of a teen on the trip. "I am wondering why we as parents have not been notified of this occurrence. My 15 year old daughter is there and I am upset."

Each of the three local Lamorinda high schools had students on the trip, parents said, and 17 kids were sent home early after being interviewed by the tour bus operators.

"It's not as if we didn't know it was a party trip," said another parent. "The website is loaded with rap and pictures of partying kids."

College age chaperones the tour bus company said were on hand to make sure the kids stayed safe evaporated when the police showed up, witnesses said.

KRNV-TV in Reno first reported the contraband confiscation on late Tuesday. Elko Police Chief Don Zumwalt told the Associated Press things started with a store clerk's report that passengers were smoking in the parking lot of an Elko travel plaza near the interstate. The police chief estimated the group had been traveling for eight hours, and was about four or five hours from their destination -- Salt Lake City.

After police dogs sniffed marijuana in each baggage compartment of each of the caravan's five buses, Zumwalt said he realized he had a problem.

"We had 250 kids. I don't know if anyone was over 21," he said. "I could have written a citation and arrested them all and confiscated the buses. But logistically it would have been a nightmare. Who belonged to what? Where would we put them?"

The juvenile detention facility in Elko has 20 beds.

"Las Vegas or Reno police might have done things differently," Zumwalt told the AP. "But this is how we solved the dilemma. Rather than seize the buses and obtain search warrants, we said, 'Get all the stuff off the buses.'"

Nevada police said they are trying to contact officials with the tour operator, Summer Winter Action Tours, based in Costa Mesa, Calif. A website touts the trip, dubbed El Nino 2011, as a gathering of high school students from 67 schools in Los Angeles, Orange County, Temecula and Arizona, 27 schools in the San Diego area, and 40 schools in Northern California.

"I'm trying to hunt down who has ultimate responsibility," Zumwalt said.

And police are not alone in their search for the responsible party, apparently, as about ten local parents wrote or called Patch seeking information on the trip operators Thursday.

MF January 02, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Time to take this post down.
J.D. O'Connor January 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Morning, Folks -- I believe we have entered the realm of self-flagellation with many of your comments. I'm going to leave the comments interface open for another few hours and then close it down to comments. Tough story but apparently of interest. If any of you would like to sum up the "takeaways" of this story now would be a good time to do so. Editor
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop January 02, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I believe that most of what has been said here is self-centered rigmarole attempting to second guess behavior that is long established. This barn is empty and the horses long gone. Instead of analyzing child rearing abilities the effect of which is plainly evident, why not get to the root of the contemporary problem. Most of these kids are simply victims of an environment that has drugs and alcohol readily available. They are not candidates for habitual criminal behavior in the long run, they are experimenting and most will soon see the error of their ways. What's done is done as one cannot undo the results of the formative years. There is a small minority among them that represent the source of the felonious materials. No one has mentioned rooting them out, probably out of fear that their own kids may be among them. The Elko fiasco remains a lost opportunity whereby the sources were ripe for the plucking. That chief took the unprofessional route as he did not want to face the wrath of affluent parents and their lawyers. Sweeping the culprits under the rug is a form of denial deleterious to all concerned. They may belong to you, but better late than never.
Danielle January 02, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Those darn Las Lomas kids....
Caseysmommy January 02, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Bottom line... If the parents didnt pawn the kids off on a free for all bus trip to do what they wanted this article would fail to exist. Shame on the parents.. bottom line ;)

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