Burning Man police report: 58 arrests, a sexual assault, one death and some drug trafficking

Big city problems came to this year’s annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

A death, a sexual assault, an assault with a deadly weapon and a total of 58 arrests are among the incidents officers dealt with patrolling the playa, the temporary city of some 70,000 people set up Aug. 25 to Sept. 2 about 100 miles north of Reno.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management work together to oversee law enforcement, and records from the sheriff’s office reveal 14 more arrests were made in 2019 than in 2018.

Thirty-two people from California were arrested, including nine from San Francisco, according to the official 2019 arrest report from the Sheriff’s office.

All of the charges against S.F. residents were drug-related, except one person was charged for the failure to appear for a traffic citation. One San Francisco man arrested for possession of marijuana and trafficking more than 28 grams of a controlled substance was booked on a felony charge with $500,740 bail.

ALSO: Cause of death of man found dead at Burning Man released by officials

The 27 other arrests involved people from eight other states (Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington) and five countries (Australia, Egypt, Israel, Lithuania and Switzerland).

Most of the charges were drug-related and bail amounts ranged from $640 to a half-million.

A 36-year-old man was charged with a felony for an alleged sexual assault and false imprisonment of an unidentified victim on Aug. 22 during the pre-festival setup period. His bail was set at $152,500.

A 55-year-old from Dayton, Nev., was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and booked on a felony with $20,000 bail.

One death was reported — a man who apparently died in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The number of arrests in 2019 was 23 percent higher than the four-year average. An average of 47 people were arrested in each of the past four years, the most in 2017 with 57. Stepped up law enforcement pushed the number of arrests from six in 2013 and seven in 2014 to 41 in 2015.

Burning Man includes a statement regarding drug use at the event in its online materials for attendees: “The use and possession of illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia are violations of the law. Depending on the violation, you may receive a citation or be arrested and/or evicted from the event. The possession of large quantities or a variety of drugs may be interpreted as evidence of intent to distribute or trafficking, a serious felony offense. Giving illegal substances to someone else could also be considered drug trafficking.”

SFGATE reached out to the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and Burning Man for comment and will update the story if we hear back.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Amy Graff is a digital reporter for SFGATE. Email her at agraff@sfgate.com.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Burning-Man-police-report-arrest-Pershing-Sheriff-14410731.php.

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