The Fayette County Drug Task Force Saturday conducted a raid at the Church of Universal Love and Music in Bullskin Township, netting numerous drugs and paraphernalia and filing charges against 22 people.
Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon confirmed that charges were filed with District Judge Joseph George, including against vendors at the Bullskin Township nondenominational church, where the second day of what its Web site called "Funk Fest" was taking place.
At least two people were charged with possession with intent to deliver, she said.
Vernon said the raid was conducted after execution of a search warrant yesterday and included two vanloads of people and two truckloads of paraphernalia and drugs.
She said the haul included "pounds" of psilocybin mushrooms (a hallucinogen), LSD, pills believed to be Oxycontin, marijuana, scales, more than 1,000 pipes and smoking devices.
She said the task force set up two undercover operations at the site in May and July.
"They (undercover officers) openly watched people using drugs, selling drugs," Vernon said. "The basis of the two visits was for the issuance of a search warrant by the court of common pleas."
"I'm so proud of the task force," she said
More than 800 people and vendors attended the May and July events the undercover officers attended.
"This was a very dangerous situation," she said.
Nearly 40 officers, including task force members, state police, the county sheriff's office and medics assisted with the raid.
"The purpose of doing this was to establish that there is a lot of criminal activity going on up there," Vernon said.
She plans to present "concrete proof" of that activity to the county with the goal of appealing to the federal courts to shut down the church..
In March, church founder William "Willie" Pritts dropped his religious-freedom lawsuit after Fayette County officials agreed to allow him to resume holding rock concerts on his 147-acre property.
Pritts could not be reached for comment last night.
By Mary Pickels
August 2, 2009
Pittsburg Tribune Review