What Happens if you Trade Lifts Tickets for Drugs?

You go to jail. Suddenly, paying $92 for a lift ticket doesn’t seem so bad.


In mid-February an unusual deal was advertised on Craigslist: “I have dozens of full-date vouchers for Mammoth Mountain, no black-out days. These are good for the 08-09 season so I need these to get used. I will only trade 420x. Tickets in Mammoth, ezy.”

Some respondents didn’t fully understand the post, but at least six people did. “[420 and x] are pretty common terms for marijuana and Ecstasy in that culture,” explains Supervising Narcotics Agent Paul Robles. (Thanks for the tip, Paul.) The offer was part of a sting operation set up by the Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team. “We had people e-mailing, calling, and giving us phone numbers offering weed, cocaine—pretty much whatever we wanted.”

On Friday, February 20, an undercover agent met with three hopeful parties, all from southern California, in a Mammoth Lakes parking lot. One man traded an ounce of marijuana for six full-day passes and was arrested. Another went to jail in front of his girlfriend and members of her family for sale and possession of an equal amount. The third party, three men and a woman aged 27 to 34, traded an ounce of marijuana, six Ecstasy pills, and nearly four grams of cocaine for what they thought was a weekend of free skiing. When they were pulled over shortly after the transaction, police found more marijuana and cocaine, a scale, and an assortment of illegally possessed prescription drugs.

“I read about it in our local news column just like everybody else,” says Mammoth spokeswoman Joani Lynch. “The ski area wasn���t involved in anything to do with setting it up.”

Robles considers the small operation simple but successful. “We did not even hide our IP address,” Robles says about the ad, which was easily traceable to a computer at the Mono County sheriff’s office. “We just caught the dumb ones, which is pretty much our job anyways.” This time all the dumb ones were snowboarders.