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Storm Over LA Rave Deaths

Despite drug-related dangers, raves are allowed to continue because of the money they bring in.


14 people have died at raves in the LA area
since 2006. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


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Despite warnings of drug-related health risks, local governments have permitted raves staged by two major LA-based promoters to go ahead because of the revenue they generate for the community, finds a Los Angels Times investigationThe raves—produced by Pasquale Rotella's firm, Insomniac Inc., and Reza Gerami's Go Ventures Inc—have been linked with 14 drug-related deaths since 2006, according to analysis of coroners' reports and law enforcement records from nine states. Most were linked to hallucinogens common on the rave scene, such as ecstasy, and most of those who died were in their teens or early 20s. In addition, scores of other drug-related medical emergencies and arrests were reported at some of the 64 concerts put on by the duo. But despite this, local governments haven't banned the shows. "It pretty well fills all the local hotels," says Judge Dave Barkemeyer, who issued a permit for a Rotella rave in Milam County, Texas. "It brings in a fair amount of commerce."

Many are outraged by this. "The city should have zero tolerance for any activity where drugs are an integral part," says James Penman, the San Bernardino city attorney. "A rave without drugs is like a rodeo without horses. They don't happen." Rotella's firm says in an e-mail that all efforts are made to protect concertgoers, but that they aren't responsible for individual actions. "Despite the fact that the overwhelming number of our festival's hundreds of thousands of attendees have a positive experience, a small number of people make the personal decision to break the law as well as the policies of our events," they write. Rotella and Gerami have been indicted and pleaded not guilty on bribery and other charges in connection with their concerts at the LA Memorial Coliseum and adjoining Sports Arena. According to prosecutors, they made roughly $2 million in illicit payments to a Coliseum executive in order to not reveal the cost of their concerts.

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