It's becoming tradition.
For the third year in a row, Howard County police conducted a targeted operation during a weekend series of Phish concerts at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia. Police arrested 24 people — 21 for drug-related charges— at two Phish concerts on June 11 and 12 and handed out 22 citations for underage drinking.
In 2010, police made 21 arrests at two Phish concerts in June and wrote seven citations for underage drinking. In 2009, police made 31 arrests and seized $12,000 in illegal, drug-related money at a single Phish concert in August.
"The Phish concerts do tend to sell out, so we see the maximum capacity at Merriweather, so that justifies a larger police presence," said police spokeswoman Elizabeth Schroen. "To this extent, this is our largest contingent or operation that we have at any of the summer concerts at Merriweather."
This year, officers, some working undercover, seized marijuana, hashish, ecstasy, nitrous oxide and methamphetamine, police said. Additionally, three vehicles containing drugs and $2,000 in drug-related money was seized.
Of the 21 people arrested for drug-related charges, 11 were charged with drug distribution, five people were charged with drug possession with the intent to distribute and two individuals were charged with both.
"A number of the people who were arrested approached plain-clothed officers attempting to sell drugs," Schroen said.
Schroen declined to provide the number of officers who worked the two concerts.
"Our increased enforcement and presence (at Phish concerts) is based on our past experience with some increased drug activity," she said. "As far as why that is, we wouldn't want to speculate."