Feds Threaten Utah Ravers

A Utah family whose property at Spanish Fork Canyon was raided last year during an outdoor rave party has been warned by federal lawyers not to host a similar event this summer.

Stephen Sorenson, the acting U.S. attorney for Utah, wrote a letter in March to Trudy Childs, saying the government could confiscate all the Childs’ property and everything on it if drugs are involved during future events, according to the Salt Lake City Weekly.

“The United States has received information that you are again considering leasing your property for an outdoor music concert,” Sorenson reportedly wrote. “If you choose to lease your land again for another similar event, we can assure you that there will be drug trafficking on your property.

“Your property can be civilly forfeited to the United States if it is merely used for or facilitates the distribution of narcotics.”

In August 2005, the Childs family leased its land to a promoter for a rave, which was later stormed by more than 90 police officers who claimed the mass gathering did not have the proper permits. Approximately 14 people were arrested on drug charges, the paper reported.

The letter – which arrived just days after the family rejected an offer from the federal government to buy the land – concluded with a list of federal laws that could be used to charge the owners with drug crimes, according to the Weekly.

Childs attorney Brian Barnard reportedly called the letter “an intimidation tactic,” and copied it to the Utah County Attorney’s Office, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, one town marshal and 13 police departments, including departments that had participated in the August 20th raid of the family’s land.

Barnard complained the family is being singled out. Sorenson said similar warning letters haven’t gone to other venues because the events that cause concerns are raves. Drug use “happens more in that setting,” he said, according to the paper.

Trudy Childs’ son, Rory, reportedly said the letter was in response to a concert planned to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research, not a rave. The family still hopes to hold the concert – which will most likely feature rock, country or blues acts – but have not set a firm date.

Meanwhile, the family thinks Sorenson’s sudden interest in their concert plans stems from the federal government wanting to get its hands on their land, the paper said.

Just one day before he sent the letter of warning, Sorenson reportedly telephoned the Childs attorney to make an offer on their land on behalf of two federal agencies. Sorenson said the timing was just a coincidence.

“If they don’t want to sell the land, all they have to do is say so. If they want to avoid the risk of criminal or civil liability, all they need to do is not allow the rave on their property,” Sorenson told the paper.

Trudy Childs said the family isn’t about to roll over.

“They don’t scare me,” she reportedly said, adding there would be more events in Spanish Fork Canyon. “I don’t think they should be able to threaten us, saying we can’t do what we want with the property.”