Founder of Play)A(Skool Indicted After Major Drug Trafficking Bust [Update]


Thanks to the chief Anonymous Burner for giving us this tip. Play)A(Skool founder Scott Pack, whose past experience includes spooky firms like Booz, Allen & Hamilton (the world’s most profitable spy organization), SERCO (run by Winston Churchill’s grandson), and the Naval Surface Warfare Command, has been indicted in the largest ever fraud case in the Colorado pot business. Pack is accused of securities fraud, money laundering, racketeering, forgery, tax evasion, and conspiracy – and collaborating with corrupt former police officers.

Pack was charged with 11 felonies:

  • Pattern of racketeering under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act; conspiracy/endeavoring under COCCA;
  • two counts of conspiracy to distribute or possess or intent to distribute 50 pounds or more of marijuana;
  • conspiracy to commit cultivation of marijuana more than 30 plants;
  • two counts of securities fraud;
  • money laundering;
  • forgery;
  • tax evasion;
  • and attempt to influence a public official.

A warrant is out for his arrest, and his bond has been set at $1 million. [Source]

According to Westword, Pack denies all allegations against him:

“We have structured our business abiding by the governing laws and regulations, and there is no reason why we would need to deceive our stakeholders, who still hold value in our company. We deny the allegations in this case, which will easily be proven false once facts and evidence are revealed in court.”

[Source]

It all began at Burning Man, according to a civil lawsuit against Pack and his accomplices:

Screenshot 2017-07-06 15.21.28

[Source]

From the Playaskool website:

Few people realize that PlayaSkool began when a large group of us were “priced out” of our seed camps.  In order to decrease the number of people in these camps we had participated in, the organizers raised their dues dramatically in hopes to “cull out” those who didn’t have the money to belong.  A group of seven incredible leaders — Michael HendersonNicole Schmidt, Scott Pack, Jay RockliffeEmre ÖzaltinAnnette Özaltin and myself banded together to create PlayaSkool and a platform to bring together our friends from around the world to share their experiences and bring those back to their communities — to “bridge the gap” between the playa and the real world.

scott.pack.png

Reblogged from The Cannabist:


A former Colorado marijuana enforcement officer and a Denver-based marijuana entrepreneur already the target of fraud allegations were indicted in connection with a suspected massive illegal marijuana trafficking ring that operated throughout the state.

A grand jury cast a wider net after the March indictments of 16 people in an allegedly illegal marijuana trafficking ring led by Michael Stonehouse, and on June 7 indicted former Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) officer Renee Rayton and three others. According to court records and the indictment obtained by The Cannabist, warrants were filed for the arrest of Rayton; entrepreneur Scott Pack, whose businesses Harmony Green LLC and HGCO LLC also were charged; and Travis Bridle and John Edward Loos, both growers and suspected middlemen in the operation.

Pack, whose businesses hold 14 marijuana licenses, played a “pivotal” role in the Stonehouse drug-trafficking organization responsible for illegally producing and selling millions of dollars worth of marijuana across state lines, according to the grand jury’s indictment. Earlier this year — in a lawsuit first reported in April by Denver Westword — Pack and Rudy Saenz, who was indicted in March, were sued by former investors who claimed they lost close to $1 million because of the duo’s fraudulent scheme.

Investigators claim that Rayton, a former Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy who joined Colorado’s MED in 2015, left her enforcement division job in the fall of 2016 after Pack offered her a 6-month, $8,000-per-month position as a compliance consultant. She started working for Pack — and pocketing cash from illegal operations — barely two weeks after leaving her post, investigators allege, in violation of state licensing policies requiring a six-month “cooling off” period before former employees can work in an industry related to their oversight.

During her involvement with Pack and his Harmony & Green businesses, Rayton also told a source that she was aware of compliance breaches and said “that she knew ‘(Department of Revenue) employees’ who would help the (drug-trafficking organization) ‘get legal,’” according to the indictment.

Officials for the 18th Judicial District in Arapahoe County said they do not comment on open cases. Pack, Rayton, Bridle and Loos could not be immediately reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the state’s marijuana regulatory agency said via email that MED was “actively engaged” in the investigation. She also noted that Rayton’s alleged illegal activity occurred after she left her job on Nov. 2, 2016.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we requested that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation conduct a formal and independent investigation involving matters related to the Marijuana Enforcement Division,” said Lynn Granger, communications director for the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees MED.

Rayton was charged with violation of state licensing authority and conspiracy to commit the cultivation of more than 30 plants of marijuana. She was released after posting a $5,000 bond, court records show.

Pack was charged with 11 counts, all felonies: Pattern of racketeering under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act; conspiracy/endeavoring under COCCA; two counts of conspiracy to distribute or possess or intent to distribute 50 pounds or more of marijuana; conspiracy to commit cultivation of marijuana more than 30 plants; two counts of securities fraud; money laundering; forgery; tax evasion; and attempt to influence a public official. A warrant is out for his arrest, and his bond has been set at $1 million, court records show.

Pack’s companies were charged with: conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 pounds of marijuana; cultivation of 30-plus marijuana plants; and two counts of securities fraud.

Bridle and Loos, who investigators alleged illegally cultivated marijuana for sale out of state, also served as middlemen in the shipments and payments, the indictment claimed.

Loos was charged with two counts: conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute 50 pounds or more of marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to court records. Bridle was charged with conspiracy to distribute, distribution of 50 pounds or more of marijuana, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Bond for each was set at $250,000 and warrants have been issued for their arrests.

‘A front for a successful illegal marijuana trafficking organization’

Pack and Saenz were 50-50 partners in Harmony & Green LLC, an asset holding company and licensing business; Pack created HGCO to obtain marijuana licenses, according to allegations in the June 7 indictment. During the course of two years, Pack obtained 14 marijuana licenses for the firm, but he kept Saenz’s identity as an owner cloaked from the state.

Pack never disclosed to the state that his business partner was a man who was barred from obtaining a marijuana license nor that there were investments made from out of state or country, investigators allege.

Harmony & Green’s scheme involved soliciting investors for money to build out warehouses that had been leased or bought by Pack’s father, Michael Pack. The younger Pack and Saenz deceived investors, saying they had invested millions of their own money when they had not, and they misrepresented a $678,000 annual revenue stream that did not legally exist, according to the indictment.

Under the guise of a licensed Colorado cannabis business, Harmony & Green and HGCO served as a front for the drug-trafficking organization, investigators claim, noting that the businesses never made a single legal sale of cannabis in their two years of operation.

Pack and Saenz reeled in $1 million during 2016 from the illegal distribution of marijuana, investigators allege.

“All of this was done under Scott Pack and Rudy Saenz’s scheme of using HGCO LLC as a shell company, which essentially provided licenses that Harmony & Green LLC could never hold,” investigators alleged. “Harmony & Green LLC then scammed unknowing individuals into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a company, which never once sold legal marijuana in the state of Colorado, but provided a front for a successful illegal marijuana trafficking organization.”

Eight of the 16 people indicted held active or expired licenses for operating a marijuana business in Colorado, The Denver Post reported in March.

The story has garnered national attention, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited The Denver Post in a recent letter to Congress framing his opposition to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prevents Justice Department funds from being used for prosecutions in states with medical marijuana laws. The letter dated May 1, 2017, was published Monday by MassRoots, a marijuana social media company.

“Drug traffickers already cultivate and distribute marijuana inside the United States under the guise of state medical marijuana laws,” Sessions wrote. “In particular, Cuban, Asian, Caucasian and Eurasian criminal organizations have established marijuana operations in state-approved marijuana markets. The individuals in these organizations often find a place for themselves within state regulatory systems.”

[Source: The Cannabist]


[Update 7/7/17]

We received this comment on Facebook from Zoë Brock, who I can confirm is not the Anonymous Burner source who originally tipped us off to this story.

Zoë Brock I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me in the last day or two and suggest that I am responsible for this article or other aspects of Scott Pack’s astonishing downfall. Amazingly, I’m not (amazing because I didn’t even think of it, NOT because there aren’t plenty of people who would feel justified and motivated enough to feed Burners.Me the story).

For the record, I have no idea if Scott Pack is guilty or innocent. I worked for his company in marketing, brand and design (and glorified personal assistant/social organizer/fuck bunny – doing whatever I could to support my then boyfriend). It was my job to make everything look beautiful and try to keep him on track to uphold the corporate integrity I wrote for the company’s culture and mission. Clearly I failed, and for that I would like to extend my sincere apologies to all the people who invested in his company. I’m sorry. Looking back I can see that the corporate ethos that was peddled to you reflected my own integrity and ideals, not those of its CEO. I’m embarrassed and sad that I ever had anything to do with Mr Pack on a personal level, or his company on a professional one. I wish I could erase him from my life forever.

I do have an opinion on Scott’s guilt/innocence with these indictments but it is based solely on my own experiences of his character (or lack thereof) and the statements of several people who have approached me since the indictments came down and told me what they know. It doesn’t look good, but in this new Trump world anything is possible.

I have mediocre faith in the judicial system and if Mr Pack is innocent I assume he will be found so. If he is found guilty I have no doubt that he will continue to cry “witch hunt” and “fake news” and other Trumpian things.

Mr Pack has recently asked me to stop posting negatively about him and hurting his standing in “The Community”. My response to that is – stop behaving negatively. I’m not putting any kind of spin on things, I’m simply stating the facts. The facts are that this man lied to everyone he has ever met about the state of his marriage and the character of his poor wife. He lied about the state of our relationship and my character. He has assassinated the characters of many of his friends and colleagues behind their backs – and yet demands loyalty from everyone or else they are “dead to (him)”, and now he has been indicted on criminal charges.

There are many people who might be the Anonymous Burner mentioned in this article. I have an inkling that it was a band of brothers (and sisters) fed up with the arrogance, manipulations, double standards, lies, misogyny, objectification and the abject lack of accountability and complete victim mentality of this poor little rich boy from San Diego.

I’d like to say thanks to Anonymous Burner for aiding the karmic hammer on its path, for I know that there is nothing more important to Mr Pack than his reputation. Nothing.

Which brings me to my point. If you, singularly or as a community, want to see him evolve and be a better person, then hold him accountable. Don’t let him make excuses for his shit and blame other people anymore. Don’t let him pass the buck. Don’t pat him on the back and tell him everything will be ok or indulge his victim mentality. Don’t just anonymously fill his RV with trash at the end of the Burn as a message for him (that was crazy, yo – but I had to clean that shit up!). Tell him. Tell him face to face what a gigantic, mean, demoralizing asshole he is to work with/under/build a camp with. Tell him you think cheating on his wife is immoral and ugly. Make him aware that saying vicious things about womens genitals behind their backs after sleeping with them is disgusting and ungentlemanly. Make sure he knows that letting women have unprotected sex with him and someone he knows has HIV is downright illegal and fucking horrifying. Communicate to him how fucked up it is to string his girlfriend along for years thinking she is supporting him through a violent divorce only to find out it was bullshit once she was pregnant. Please let him know, on no uncertain terms, that after his abusive, threatening, sadistic and cruel behavior during her pregnancy, birth and first few weeks of motherhood that he is not welcome in her life, and that the best thing he can do for her and her daughter is to leave them alone forever and focus on healing things with his traumatized wife and neglected children. Please, please tell him that “The Community” no longer “wants to see him step up and be a good father”, but that it instead wants him to back the fuck off and leave them alone.

However you do it is fine by me. A text, a message, an email. Carrier pigeon.

If you don’t like confrontations feel free to just like this post to show your support of Willow and I.

Or delete him.

Or both.

I love you all but your silence is enabling. He reads it as acceptance, and acceptance prevents him from ever learning accountability.

If this community wants to be a community perhaps it ought to find its voice and not just snack on popcorn from the sidelines.

This man has treated people like shit for years and then waxes lyrical about peace, love and mungbeans. Well reading self-help books does not make an evolved man, and fucking everything with a hole in it doesn’t make you a feminist.

How do you know I am not Anonymous Burner? Because I would have proudly emblazoned my name right across the top of this article… and added a whole lot more.

Cannabis and Kratom: A Light in the Opiate Dark

philip-seymour-hoffman

Analysis by Terry Gotham

With the country currently gripped in fear that ACA will be repealed, I’ve started to ponder what options will be left for Americans in the throes of physical dependency if the cuts to medical/addiction funding are as deep as the ones currently being floated. While some proponents of the 21st Century Cures Act note that there’s been a scheduled $1 billion increase in funding for treatment, a repeal would remove at least $5.5 billion in funding to almost 3 million people suffering from substance use disorders. As dozens of states grapple with ever-increasing rates of opiate addiction and overdose, states that have legalized cannabis have discovered something startling.

A study published in the Journal of Pain by a trio of researchers out of the University of Michigan documents a reduction in opiate consumption in Chronic Pain patients who use cannabis. Specifically, medical cannabis uses was associated with a 64% reduction in opioid use. Additionally, 45% of the patients (118 out of the 244 sampled), reported reduced side effect frequency & intensity. In states that have medical marijuana available for their citizens, drivers between the age of 21 and 40 who were killed driving accidents tested positive for opiates significantly less often than drivers of the same age in states that didn’t have medical marijuana available. For example, Montana saw a 1.7% reduction in the number of drivers who tested positive for opioids after their MMJ laws went into effect. And that’s just numbers associated with people behind the wheel. When we evaluate the effect of cannabis consumption on opiate overdoses, the evidence becomes even more compelling.

Continue reading

BPM & Ending The War on Drugs: Don’t You Dare Look Away Now

Narco-sign in Playa Del Carmen after BPM shooting

Photo By Trevor Dunn

Editorial/Analysis by Terry Gotham

I’ve spent the last week interviewing people and collecting information about the worst thing to happen in live events since Orlando. Last week, the BPM Festival suffered a terrible attack, leaving 5 dead and more than a dozen wounded. Long considered one of the crown jewels of the festival circuit, this heinous attack has resulted in the local government showing BPM and all other music festivals the door. As usual, most commentary on the causes or effects either totally misses the mark or descends into slap fighting.

Photo by Semanario Playa News Aqui y Ahora

Photo by Semanario Playa News Aqui y Ahora

Before I dig into this story any deeper, I need to make a strong caveat. This commentary is in no way blaming anyone who was shot at, injured or killed for the violence that was done to them. I cannot stress this enough. While macroeconomic forces, drug cartels and America’s ineffectual responses to the growing demands for legalization are to blame for this attack, blaming BPM or BPM ticketholders for narco-terrorism is tone-deaf to the point of brutality. While I assume people will believe that was my aim to engage in some classist/leftist/racist point that serves only to divide, I believe this can be a wake up call for everyone who parties, not just those who take drugs or care about legalization, but for all Americans who believe in Constitutional rights.

According to Miguel Angel Pech Sen (district attorney of Quintana Roo, a Mexican state) at 2:30 AM, Monday morning, the security at Elrow’s closing party at the Blue Parrot was overwhelmed and the club was entered by an as-yet undetermined number of assailants. BPM declared that there was a lone gunman on the FB post about the shooting, but this has been called into question by a number of witnesses who spoke to Billboard and claimed they saw multiple shooters. The Attorney General later said it appeared there were “a lot of people carrying arms” in the club, and that many of those wounded were hit when security personnel were attempting to shoot the attacker. The attacker escaped, he said, and may have been assisted by a taxi in getting away. Three members of security died, a 4th, who seemed to be the target, and a fifth person died in the stampede to escape the club.

After the shooting at the Blue Parrot, the violence raged across Playa Del Carmen for the rest of the week. On Tuesday, a “Code Red” was activated in Cancun when the Control Center for Command, Computing & Communications was attacked by 10 armed men who arrived by motorcycle. Their goal was to extract a local drug cartel leader from holding, not kidding. Avenues in Cancun were attacked with fucking grenades, while shots were reported inside of the Plaza Las Americas Shopping Center. Narco-signs (messages from the cartels) sprang up, with the Zetas claiming responsibility and announcing that more violence was to come. Again, Playa Del Carmen banned not just BPM, but electronic music festivals, in case you had tickets to the Arena Festival, slated to go on in the beginning of February.

At this point, I hope it’s clear that this is a situation that the police and military do not have under control. While plenty of American and Canadian party people live blissfully unaware of the spiral of drug-fueled violence that Mexico is enduring, we need to stop pretending “this is fine.”

mexican-safety-map

Whether it’s the Fast & Furious gun program, Hillary’s refusal to support legalization, or the psychedelic libertarianism I’ve written about before, the indifference to legalization as a priority has put billions into the hands of cartels that have much of Latin America by the balls. MS13, the Zetas, the Sinaloa Cartel, and dozens of others we’ve probably never even heard of have rained suffering and death across so much of our hemisphere. Our continued inability to care about the problems that come with drugs, namely opiate abuse by the poor and swelling the coffers of organized crime, has all but ensured that tragedies like the one that befell the Blue Parrot will keep happening anywhere the drug war has touched.

I don’t want to hear that legalizing drugs will just cause the cartels to make money somewhere else. The revenue is non-trivial. Even before legalization hit, the RAND Corporation and the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness estimated that almost 30% of cartel revenue (not profit) came from cannabis. With legalization, we’re already seeing cannabis seizures drop:

In the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, marijuana seizures fell to 8,158 pounds in fiscal 2015, an 88 percent drop compared to a decade-high of 68,825 pounds seized in fiscal 2011…As marijuana seizures have declined, other drugs including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are skyrocketing at the border. Traffickers are capitalizing on the growing opiate epidemic, as well as their ability to cheaply produce enormous amounts of pure meth from Chinese precursor chemicals in Mexican “superlabs.”
~San Diego Tribune

Source: Washington Post

It’s not just along the California border. According to the US Border Patrol, cannabis is just not showing up at numbers it used to be anywhere they’re seizing it:

But the amount of one drug — marijuana — seems to have finally fallen. U.S. Border Patrol has been seizing steadily smaller quantities of the drug, from 2.5 million pounds in 2011 to 1.9 million pounds in 2014. Mexico’s army has noted an even steeper decline, confiscating 664 tons of cannabis in 2014, a drop of 32% compared to year before.
~Time

The Zetas aren’t super-villains from the 50’s. They know how much money they can make getting certain substances over the border and into the hands of eager consumers. This connects back to parties almost depressingly well. How many people do we all know that expect there to be drugs for them to buy at parties? How many of them honestly give a fuck about whether they’re legal or not? Just think of the thousands of party people who demand farm to table, vegan/vegetarian or some other form of “I don’t consume things made unethically” cuisine, but then proceed to put $200 worth of possibly Peruvian Cocaine up their noses. I really think we should be more concerned about the lives of indigenous people living under cartels than whether our almond milk was sprayed with pesticide before it landed in my smoothie. As a dear friend put it, we couldn’t stop the Orlando mass shooting, but decriminalization/legalization probably would have stopped this shooting.

stratfor-map-2014

You need to ask yourself, if this shooting happened at a club on the beach that only Mexicans went to, and had nothing to do with BPM, would you have cared? Would you have even seen it on your news feeds? I’ve spoken to dozens of Clinton supporters over the last 18 months who strongly supported her not legalizing. If the Zetas weren’t able to wholesale pot into every city in America outside of a handful of states, would they be able to buy weapons and commit crime? Of course. But certainly not to the levels that they’ve been able to in the last several years.

Not a lot of people remember this, but over a decade ago, we deported a bunch of MS13 members, trying to break the back of the gang. This backfired so spectacularly that MS-13 chapters cropped up all across Latin America, accelerating its growth from a few thousand members in LA to an international cartel, possessing a massive supply chain and a network that rivals most intelligence services. We trained & funded the 34 commandos that eventually flipped the script & became Los Zetas. Remember them from earlier in the article? Yup, the very same. Our efforts to stop people from doing drugs are directly responsible for this shit. The blood of party people is on American hands.

But don’t think this is anything new. Whether it was Al Capone and the bootleggers profiting from prohibition, the evolution of disco and cocaine, house dealers in the superclubs of the 1990s & 2000s or the flood of adulterated psychoactive substances that find their way into the hundreds of music festivals occurring in North America every year, Americans have partied for decades without agitating for legalization. While the mob did move on to other illegal activities once Prohibition ended, you bet your ass they jumped right back into trafficking once drug prohibition returned in the 20th Century. Until we (whether we do drugs or not) demand decriminalization/legalization and an end to the DEA/ATF/FBI/CIA’s fuckery south of our border, we should expect things like this to keep happening. Some people are fine with throwing up our hands, giving up and only partying/consuming illegal drugs made within our national  borders, but that still resigns millions of our fellow citizens to a fate of incarceration, underemployment and a life controlled by the scarlet letter of conviction. People demand the ability to modulate the contents of our minds. We should allow them to, and join them in ensuring they can, legally…if only to ensure a horrific attack like this one never happens again.

History Of The User & Society: An Introduction

drugsBy Terry Gotham

I’ve been exceptionally lucky to be able to report on new, interesting and potentially dangerous trends in drug and alcohol use/abuse for Burners.me. Whether it was novel psychoactive substances, designer Xanax, Fentanyl as the scourge of North America or even just about the commercialization of cannabis, I’ve tried to ensure my points were data-driven and relevant in the current day. This next segment of my reporting for Burners.me is going to be less focused on the present and more the past.

Tens of thousands of people have written about drug use, both recreational and medicinal, in addition to the nature of using. What far fewer have written about is the systematic segmentation of consumers of certain substances as “addicts” or “problematic users.” Drug use goes back as far as we have written records, but the labeling of certain populations as addicted/sick/bad for society is a far more recent practice. In researching to help me understand why and how this designation came about, I was stunned how many commonly held beliefs about substance use and who was using what and why were smashed. Everything from conventional wisdom surrounding The Civil War to how societal markets were shaped by tea, coffee & chocolate. Continue reading

Two Ominous Side Effects Of Cannabis Legalization

By Terry Gotham

A caveat: things are heading in the right direction in places where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use for adults. We can all agree that Colorado, Washington, Alaska & the District of Columbia didn’t become the pot-drenched “Beyond Thunderdome” dystopias that pearl clutchers & puritans envisioned. My aim is not to deride legalization efforts, nor question the dedication or motives of anyone associated with the fight to get America’s head out of its ass. Because Burning Man can be seen as a laboratory for progressive thinking & ways of living, and because a lot of Burners live in states that are currently grappling with the “how” instead of the “if” of legalization, medicalization or decrmininalization, I felt compelled to mention them. We’re legalizing in uneven steps across the country, which has brought us into unknown economic, cultural & law enforcement territory and produced some worrying side effects. Continue reading