Vice is a pretty well-known news and reporting company; it is so big that they have even partnered up with HBO for some of their documentaries. Vice reports a lot about drugs, even having a segment called “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia” a show about its host Hamilton trying different drugs from around the world.
For once, the report is going to be about them after former music editor of Noisey and head of the Vice Canada music coverage Yaroslav Pastukhov A.K.A. Slava Pastuk allegedly offered employees of Vice $10,000 to smuggle suitcases lined with cocaine into Australia. The employees who reported this to their higher-ups swear that they never took the offer though.
Someone who did take the offer was former roommate of Pastukhov and an up-and-coming Electronic music artist Jordan Gardner.
Gardner is now in jail in Australia after He, three other Canadians and an American got arrested on December 22, 2015. The Australian Federal Police says that it looks like it was done by “a transnational criminal syndicate” after finding cocaine with an estimated worth between $5.1 million and $6.6 million.
In an interview with the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, Eidan Havas, Gardner’s Lawyer stated “What they’re doing is they’re manipulating young kids such as Jordan and Jordan’s friends and the manipulation is very strong,” said Havas. “They were lied to, they were all vulnerable or in vulnerable situations and they were taken advantage of.”
“They were told certain things about the packaging and how it’s tamper-proof and this and that. So then Jordan gets the bags and the first thing, he tells me, is you can literally smell the glue from the bag,” stated Havas, implying that the suitcase was not foolproof and easy to detect
Havas then said “It’s like a five-year-old’s arts-and-crafts project …. And he’s just like, ‘You guys are a bunch of liars, this isn’t what I was told. I don’t want to do this any more.’ At that stage, one of the men pulled out a gun, held it to his head and said words to the effect of, ‘If you don’t do this, we’re gonna get your girlfriend and your parents, we know where they live.’” This is of course, why Jordan Gardner felt that he had to do what they wanted or lose his loved ones.
One journalist who once interned at vice said that in one of her assignments, Pastukhov told her to invoice $300 instead of her regular fee of $150. After she did it, Pastukhov told her to keep the $50 and instructed her to give him the remaining $100. Later on in December 2015, she received a message on facebook from Pastukhov stating “I have an opportunity for you that would be perfect. Free trip to Australia,” it reads. “It’s a trip to Australia for a week and a half. It’s free, with spending money, and you gte 10k upon return.” this message is quoted and includes typos.
The journalist thought she had struck gold, a free trip to Australia? AND $10,000 on return? It was too good to be true. Because it wasn’t true.
She asked if they could continue talking through text and asked what the job was. She then got a text saying “U go to Vegas with a friend, you each get two bags (4 total) and there’s stuff in the lining (undetectable) and go to Australia where those bags get picked up. 10k on return,” She said that she knew what was going on and declined the offer. She never reported the incident to the Senior Vice Managers fearing she would be out of a job.
Chris Ball, Head of Vice Canada’s communications stated that they learned about these allegations sometime in early 2016 and that they took swift action by hiring an employment law specialist and even contacted the Toronto Police Service and a criminal law firm to investigate.
Pastukhov was fired on February 16, 2016, yet no criminal charges have been filed yet.