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Cocaine & Vice Canada: former editor allegedly up to no good

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
How a former editor allegedly used Vice Canada to recruit drug mules for a global smuggling ring

Sean Craig and Adrian Humphreys
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017


Three current or former Vice journalists independently told the Post that Yaroslav Pastukhov, then Vice Canada’s music editor who went by the name Slava Pastuk, personally tried to recruit them as international drug couriers. Vice video

TORONTO — A former editor with Vice Media used the Canadian headquarters of the youth-focused publishing empire as a recruiting ground to draw young journalists and artists into a transnational cocaine-smuggling ring, according to allegations by current and former Vice employees who spoke to the National Post.

Three current or former Vice journalists independently told the Post that Yaroslav Pastukhov, then Vice Canada’s music editor who went by the name Slava Pastuk, personally tried to recruit them as international drug couriers, offering each of them $10,000 to carry illicit cargo hidden in the lining of suitcases from Las Vegas to Australia. They say they did not accept the offer.

Meanwhile, Pastukhov’s one-time roommate, a promising Toronto electronic music artist named Jordan Gardner whom Vice had featured in a profile, now sits in an Australian prison, awaiting sentencing after being caught at Sydney airport with a large stash of cocaine.

Gardner, three other Canadians and one American — a New York-based model — were arrested on Dec. 22, 2015, when cocaine valued between US$5.1 million and US$6.6 million in Australia was allegedly discovered in the lining of their luggage. The Australian Federal Police described it as the work of “a transnational criminal syndicate.”

Jordan Gardner.

FacebookJordan Gardner.
According to Gardner’s Australia-based lawyer, friends and family, he blames Pastukhov for badgering him into making the trip. When Gardner and some of his traveling companions tried to back out of the deal in Las Vegas, his lawyer told the Post, unknown men threatened Gardner with a gun.

None of the allegations against Pastukhov, 26, have been proven in court and the Post is not aware of any criminal charges or police investigations into his alleged activities.

Contacted several times by the Post, Pastukhov declined to address them.

“No comment,” he said. When pressed, he repeatedly declined: “No thank you, not interested.”

Vice Canada ended its relationship with Pastukhov last February after some employees raised concerns with management about his actions.

Several current and former Vice employees said the company never told all staff members the reason for Pastukhov’s departure, did not appear to adequately investigate the complaints and did not explore whether other employees alleged they were solicited — or accepted — such offers. Other current employees, however, said the company acted expeditiously and appropriately when it learned of the allegations, terminating Pashtukhov within a short window of time.

Yaroslav Pastukhov, who went by the name Slava Pastuk, in a Vice video.

Of the three young Vice contributors who provided the Post with detailed, first-hand accounts of their allegations that Pastukhov tried to recruit them, one was a full-time staff member, one was an intern and one a former intern who was at the time a freelance contributor.

Two of the three said they believed at the start of his offer — when they say he dangled a free trip to Australia — that he was extending an assignment on behalf of Vice; two said part of the attempted recruitment took place inside Vice’s Toronto office and two said their communications included use of the company’s internal messaging system.

All three said they did not immediately report the offer to management out of fear they would jeopardize their working relationship with the media outlet, given Pastukhov’s high status at Vice and what they and other staff describe as a drug-tolerant culture in the Vice Canada office.

In a statement to the Post, Vice Canada’s head of communications Chris Ball said: “Upon learning of these allegations in early 2016, Vice Canada took immediate and swift action to address these claims through our Human Resources department, enlisting an employment law specialist to consult throughout and engaging an outside criminal law firm to conduct an investigation on our behalf and contact the Toronto Police Service. Based on the results of the internal investigation the employee was promptly terminated on February 16th, 2016.

“Vice Canada takes allegations such as these very seriously as the safety of our employees is our first and foremost concern,” said the statement. “In fact, our employee handbook quite clearly states that ‘the use, possession, sale, transfer, offering or furnishing of illegal drugs or illegal use of other controlled substances while on duty or on Vice premises is prohibited.’”

In a follow-up note to a Post editor, Ball wrote that “any allegations that Vice Canada somehow fosters a culture of illicit substance use in the office is plainly false …. Our employee handbook contains a zero tolerance policy for such activity. And the investigation counsel undertook re: a now former employee is proof of how seriously we take these matters. “

* * *

Pastukhov’s journalism seemed the product of an edgy lifestyle, his writing dressed in caustic, been-there references to illicit activities, including drug use (although it is not clear whether he is writing about his own experiences).

Under the name Slava Pastuk, he began writing for Vice Canada in January 2013 and was appointed editor of Noisey Canada, an online music-themed Vice publication, in early 2014. He held that position until his departure from the company in February of 2016.

Before joining Vice, he was an aspiring comedy writer under the pseudonym Yaro Shepard (Pastukhov means “shepherd” in Russian). A 2009 piece titled How to Get the Most Out of a Massage Parlor Visit, for example, informs the reader of “the proper way to go about getting wanked off.”


In 2011, he self published an e-book called Bros & Hoes In Prose, written in much the same style. In one chapter, Pastukhov describes the character archetypes of “three women you should date,” one of which is a drug obsessive he dubbed “The Fiend.” The price of dating this type varies based on her habit, he wrote: “Coke fiend? $200 and a full tank of gas when she decides she wants to go to Vegas on a Tuesday afternoon.”

That brand of snotty humour, putting the reader in a world where drugs and sex are at the fore of a raucous and immersive party lifestyle, was exactly what Vice traded in.

Though now a major media player — it’s drawn investment from the likes of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Corporation, whose US$400 million purchase of a ten-per-cent stake in 2015 valued the company north of US$4 billion — Vice was founded in Montreal in 1994 as a punchy counterculture magazine.

Its first two decades brought international acclaim (and derision) for a house style that combined elements of the immersive reporting style of the new journalism movement of the 1960s and ‘70s with crude and mean-spirited humour. Vice, and especially its founders Suroosh Alvi, Gavin McInnes and Shane Smith, wrote and reported extensively on drug use, including that of its contributors. The founders co-authored The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, a 2003 book that documented their gonzo exploits.

In the past, Vice CEO Shane Smith has claimed he spent time “slinging coke” as a teenager. “I learned all my business acumen being a drug dealer because it’s pretty fucking simple,” Smith told comedian Joe Rogan, in an interview on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in January 2015. “You have to make a margin and you have to do this and you have to mitigate risk and you have to do all this stuff.”

The Post was not able to confirm the accuracy of Smith’s claims. Asked by the Post about his comments to Rogan, Smith replied in an e-mail: “WTF?! So stupid.”

Once entrenched at Vice’s Toronto office, Pastukhov appeared to be living the sort of life he wrote about, according to the former and current Vice employees that talked to the Post.

As editor of Noisey, Pastukhov oversaw Vice Canada’s music coverage, managing young staffers and interns and commissioning articles and videos from freelancers. He wrote pieces, too, and hosted online videos for Vice that featured music reviews and interviews with music personalities.

* * *

Jordan Gardner, 26, was a rising star in Toronto’s electronic music scene, a DJ and member of the duo Èbony, praised by the respected U.K.-based music magazine Resident Advisor as one of the best up-and-coming acts in the genre.

Gardner and Pastukhov shared interests in music and writing. According to Gardner’s friends, the pair met through Toronto’s music scene. In 2014, Vice featured Gardner in a glowing profile in Thump, its electronic music-focused editorial channel. The two became roommates.

“Their friendship was nothing extensive,” one of Gardner’s close friends told the Post. “Jordan needed a place to stay and Slava had availability.”

Pastukhov pushed Gardner to participate in the smuggling scheme, said two of Gardner’s friends and one of Gardner’s family members. Gardner eventually relented to Pastukhov’s entreaty, they said.

Jordan Gardner left Toronto in mid-December 2015 and arrived in Las Vegas, said Eidan Havas, legal counsel to Gardner in Australia.

Jordan Gardner left Toronto in mid-December 2015 and arrived in Las Vegas, said Eidan Havas, legal counsel to Gardner in Australia.
In an interview with the Post, Eidan Havas, legal counsel to Gardner in Australia, alleged that Pastukhov is part of a scheme to recruit young Canadians with no criminal record as drug mules.

“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’re finding young Canadians, or young individuals who for all intents and purposes don’t have any criminal histories and are productive members of their community, and manipulating them into making the wrong choice.”

According to Gardner’s friend, the night before Gardner left Toronto he told her he had cold feet about the trip but didn’t feel safe pulling out because he had been warned that “something could happen to” his loved ones if he didn’t go through with it. She said she is unsure who made the alleged threat.

Gardner left Toronto in mid-December 2015 and arrived in Las Vegas, where, Havas said, he was to pick up the suitcases he was to take to Australia. He was asked to meet the people dropping the bags off downstairs at the hotel in which he was staying.

“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,” he said, suggesting the supposedly foolproof alterations to the luggage seemed obviously detectable.

“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,’” Havas said.

A photo of one of the suitcases seized by police at the Sydney airport.

Court documentsA photo of one of the suitcases seized by police at the Sydney airport.
“They got him to a situation where they pulled a gun to his head, they knew where his family lived. The family received death threats. They put him in a position where he couldn’t return.”

Havas said he believes the cocaine ring into which Pastukhov allegedly recruited his client is run by a Mexican drug cartel, and that the man who allegedly put a gun to Gardner’s head in Las Vegas was Mexican.

On Dec. 20, 2015, two days before the five were arrested in Sydney, one of Gardner’s traveling companions, Nathaniel Carty, posted a photo of himself on Instagram, taken at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. He added a caption: “See you tomorrow Australia.”

On Dec. 22, Gardner, Carty and three others landed at Sydney international airport on a flight from Los Angeles, according to court records.

Shortly before 8 a.m., as they passed through Australian border control, a search of their luggage revealed 37 kilograms of white powder in 81 tightly sealed packages, hidden in the lining of eight checked bags, according to police.

Police say it tested positive for cocaine.

Gardner and Carty, a 22-year-old New York-based model, were immediately charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine.

A photo of one of the suitcases seized by police at the Sydney airport.

Later that afternoon, their traveling companions — Porscha Wade, 20, Robert Wang, 24, and Kutiba Senusi, 23, all Canadians — were also charged.

“This seizure highlights the effectiveness of our AFP (Australian Federal Police) airport officers in detecting and disrupting organized criminal gangs using drug couriers to attempt to import these dangerous illegal drugs through our international airports,” AFB Commander Tim Fitzgerald said at the time.

Gardner, Carty, Wang and Senusi have all pleaded guilty. Wade pleaded not guilty; her trial is scheduled for September.

Lawyers for each of the other accused either declined to provide details of their client’s circumstance or did not reply to the Post’s requests.

Christopher Watson, a lawyer for one of the accused, said the reluctance was based on “genuine fears for their respective safety” of both his client and his client’s family in Canada.

“How these criminal organizations thrive is on fear,” said Havas.

When news of the Australian arrests reached Toronto, it was particularly alarming to several young Vice journalists, who claim they had been targeted for recruitment as possible couriers, if not for the trip taken by Gardner then for one just like it.

Each said the approach came from Pastukhov, an editor with whom they had worked in the Vice newsroom.

* * *

The prestige of the Vice brand among millennials, and the company’s growth at a time when so many other media outlets are shrinking, have made bylines for Vice and relationships with its editors a valuable commodity for young journalists. Coverage from Vice can also be a vital boost to those trying to make it in the music scene.

(Several of the Vice journalists interviewed for this story asked that their names not be published because of a fear of repercussions from friends and former colleagues and a negative impact on their career.)

One journalist, a former Vice intern who continued to freelance for Noisey after her internship, recalls at least one freelance assignment from Pastukhov where she claims he told her to invoice $300 rather than her usual $150 fee.

Yaroslav Pastukhov, also known as Slava Pastuk, reviews questions from the National Post.

She says she did as Pastukhov instructed — but she claims he then told her she could keep only $50 of the extra money and was to send him the remaining $100. She said she later asked a few journalist friends if that was weird and they all told her it was. She wonders now whether doing as Pastukhov allegedly asked, marked her as someone whom he might trust with another unusual request.

In early December 2015, she received a private Facebook message that appeared to be from Pastukhov. (The National Post has seen screenshots of the messages and texts to her, but has not been able to verify that Pastukhov sent them.)

“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.” (All messages quoted in this story are verbatim, including typos.) The message asks if she could leave later that month.

At first she was excited, thinking Pastukhov was offering her a big freelance assignment for Vice. She was then asked to switch to text messaging to continue the discussion. In a text, she asked what she would be doing. She received a reply via a phone number that Pastukhov still uses and answered calls on this week.

The answer stunned her.

“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,” the message said.

She was disappointed and dumbfounded, describing it as a clear attempt to get her to smuggle drugs. “It was very obvious,” she said. She said she refused the offer.

She said she later realized she wasn’t the only person Pastukhov tried to recruit. “I think he just targeted all the young people there,” she said.

She regrets not reporting Pastukhov to senior Vice managers at the time, she said, but as a freelancer she felt particularly vulnerable to how Pastukhov and other Vice editors viewed her. Vice management have never asked her about her experience, she said, and she has not reported the allegations to the company.

* * *

Around the same time, Pastukhov asked another young journalist, nearing the end of a Vice internship, when his contract was finished, according to the intern.

“He said, ‘Well, I have a gig for you if you’re interested, you’d be really talented at it,’” recalled the intern. “He said, ‘Next time you’re in the office let’s go for coffee.’”

The intern assumed Pastukhov was likely talking about a journalism assignment. He said he sent Pastukhov a message on Slack, an internal messaging system used at Vice, when he was next in the office.

Vice Canada’s Liberty Village office.

When they met, the two walked to a small café nearby, one frequented by Vice staff, but as they came to the café’s door, Pastukhov grabbed his shoulder, steered him away from it and told him to keep walking, he said.

“We went around the corner and then he said, ‘Shut off your phone,’ so I shut off my phone.”

The intern said Pastukhov asked the intern if he had a girlfriend. The intern said he didn’t. Pastukhov then asked how he felt about taking a trip to Las Vegas and Australia, according to the intern.

“Literally, at this point I still had no idea. I thought he was talking about maybe some music thing, I didn’t know what it was,” the intern recalled.

“He said, basically, ‘All you got to do is you take this trip to Las Vegas and then Australia. You stay two weeks in Las Vegas, two weeks in Australia.’

“‘The person you bring with you has to be a kind of pretty girl, white preferably, shorter than you. And you guys can’t drink or get high while you’re in these places,’” he alleges Pastukhov said.

“‘And then you just come back and all you got to do is just carry a suitcase with you the entire time and I’ll give you $10,000 when you get back.’”

The intern said he believed he was being asked to smuggle drugs.

“I’m not an idiot. I’ve been around drug dealers in my life. I asked him what’s in the suitcase and he wouldn’t tell me.”

Yaroslav Pastukhov, also known as Slava Pastuk.

Though the offer seemed insane, he said he told Pastukhov he would consider it.

“When we got back to the office, I was shocked, I didn’t know what to do, I really didn’t,” he said. “I was an intern, I felt like I didn’t know who he was involved with … I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I didn’t want to get fired. So I left it, but I really felt out of place at work. I felt really exploited by this guy.”

A follow-up text that appears to come from Pastukhov was sent on Dec. 8, 2015, which the Post has read.

“After u take ur trip there’s always the option that you find other parties of 2 to go. There’s a 1k referal fee for that, or u can just tell them its less than 10 and keep the rest,” the text says.

The intern claims Pastukhov also told him he had recently made the trip himself.

A few weeks before the alleged sidewalk proposition, Pastukhov had told colleagues at Vice that his grandfather had died and he needed time off work to go to Ukraine to bury him and Pastukhov was away from work for a couple of weeks, the intern said.

According to the intern, Pastukhov told the intern that the story of his bereavement leave was a lie — that he had never known his grandfather and had really been on one of these smuggling trips.

Pastukhov said he had travelled with a minor Canadian music-industry personality whom Pastukhov had repeatedly featured in Vice stories and videos, including some published within weeks of their alleged trip.

Multiple social media accounts belonging to the music-scene personality with whom Pastukhov claimed he had travelled feature messages and photos posted around the same time as their alleged smuggling trip from the same locations as the smuggling route he described in his alleged recruitment, including from Las Vegas and Sydney. The Post could not reach him for comment.

After touching down in Australia, the music personality wrote to another friend on social media to let them know “we made it.”

* * *

Another young journalist, then a full-time member of Vice staff who worked with Pastukhov, told the Post that Vice, especially in late 2015 before its rapid expansion, was a tight-knit operation. Employees would often go out together to a bar near the office.

“A couple of times when we went out for drinks after work a few of us did some drugs together, so he was aware that some of us were not totally averse to that,” she said of Pastukhov.

In late October or early November of that year, she said, Pastukhov sent her a message via Slack asking her to get coffee with him. They went later that day.

The alleged verbal proposal she described to the Post mirrored the one Pastukhov allegedly made to the other journalists — travelling to Australia via Las Vegas, taking a bag with her, being paid $10,000.

“I don’t think the magnitude of the criminality of what he was proposing and, like, the inappropriate nature of proposing that to a co-worker really sank in in the moment,” she said.

She left the proposition hanging and returned to work, she said, choosing not to report it to management because Pastukhov was an early hire at Vice and seemed to be tight with senior management.

“If I had wanted to complain I would have felt very uncomfortable,” she said. “The culture of the work place is ‘We’re all friends,’ which also makes it much more difficult for managers to be managers.”

Vice later fired her for unrelated reasons, and, she said, Pastukhov again approached her, texting her in December 2015 to express condolences over her job loss.

“I think basically it just said, ‘That sucks, also, that offer is still on the table if you need money,’” she said. (She could not retrieve the original text message for the Post.)

She has not reported her experience to Vice management, and Vice never asked her about her experience, she said — but she told the Post she recalled with alarm Pastukhov’s alleged attempt to recruit her later, after a former Vice colleague told her about the Australian arrests.

* * *

Vice’s growth and burgeoning mainstream legitimacy have been fuelled by big U.S. investors like Fox and Disney buying into its self-proclaimed dominance of the millennial market. In Canada, its country of birth (since the late ‘90s Vice has been headquartered in New York), Vice struck a $100 million, three-year partnership with telecommunications giant Rogers in October 2014.

That partnership included an agreement to produce content for mobile, web and for the television network Viceland, which launched in Canada in Feb. 2016 as a Category A-licensed specialty channel majority-owned by Rogers, and an agreement to build the studio and offices where Vice’s Canadian staff now work, in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood.

Under the deal, Vice also produces content for Rogers’ Fido mobile phone customers; Fido sponsorship logos appear on several of Pashtukov’s videos for Vice. (Rogers did not respond to several requests for comment.)

But media partners eager for a piece of Vice’s cool may also be investing in a culture that’s an awkward fit in a corporate portfolio.

Things have become more professional at Vice Canada since its recent expansion. It’s no longer the “party scene” it once was, said one current senior member of staff. “The newsroom is now as boring as any other newsroom.”

But while the workplace culture is “a lot tighter than it used to be … drug use is rampant,” said another current Vice Canada employee.

“We work at a place that we write about drugs a lot. Not just in a newsy way but in, like, a ‘Drugs-are-cool-let’s-get-fucked-up’ way,” said a former staff member.

Staff members used cocaine at the company’s Toronto office during a 2015 Christmas party, according two staff members who were present.

One of those witnesses, a now-former senior member of Vice staff, said it was not the only time he had seen cocaine used at the Vice Canada office. There were “multiple people doing cocaine. Absolutely. I knew several people who did coke. You’ve got literally a beer tap in the office, right?

“In my interactions with other employees, you’d be drinking with someone at a party and someone would say ‘You want a bump?’ so you’d go off to the washroom and snort cocaine and that was sort of the way it was.”

Though workplace cocaine use wasn’t widespread, there was little stigma around its use, according to another former Vice employee: “It wasn’t like a big deal because there are users in the office and it just seemed like a regular office thing.”

Two of those who told the Post they were solicited by Pashtukhov suspect the ease they showed around drugs in the workplace or in work-social events may have made Pastukhov feel comfortable approaching them with his offers.

Vice is also, a former senior staff member said, a work environment filled with young employees earning modest salaries, potentially making offers of quick money a more attractive proposition.

“Vice was the sort of place where people didn’t get paid very well,” he said. “When someone goes to you, ‘I have the ability to give you a third of your salary, perhaps, over the course of a weekend,’ I think it’s kind of hard for people to not sit there and go, ‘Oh, could this be legit? Could I get away with this?’”

Vice’s Toronto-based employees — many of whom, according to several sources, earn salaries in the low $30,000s — voted to unionize in June 2016, but initially faced pushback from the company. When the union drive was first announced in late 2015, Vice Canada Managing Director Ryan Archibald told staff in an e-mail, “It is our view that we have a great workplace now, and that we offer very competitive benefits, such that you don’t really need a union to represent you.”

Two of the Vice journalists interviewed by the Post said they contemplated their low wages after Pastukhov allegedly made his $10,000 offer.

* * *

The Australian arrests were a tipping point for some Vice staff who say they were already concerned about Pastukhov’s actions.

According to several sources, someone anonymously emailed a news release about the Australian arrests to Vice Canada’s office. Whomever sent the email added a note saying Pastukhov was involved. The email was received in early 2016 and management looked into the matter but, a source said, did not seem to make deep or wide inquiries of its staff members.

Around the same time, several staff members were socializing at a bar when one of them mentioned Pastukhov’s alleged approach to them. At least one other person at the table then claimed they had also been approached, according to several people present.

Jordan Pearson, a current staff writer at Vice’s tech vertical Motherboard, and Matt Braga, at the time a Vice Canada editor, confirmed to the Post they were at a social gathering in late 2015 or early 2016 where staff discussed allegations Pastukhov solicited journalists to participate in drug trafficking.

According to sources, that led to a wider discussion that night and in the days following about Pastukhov’s alleged behaviour, fears he was endangering young colleagues and abusing his position at Vice. Some of those concerned decided to alert management, sources said.

Independently, a number of employees told their supervisor about their claims of Pastukhov’s smuggling proposals, sources said. At least one of the complainants was told by their supervisor that Vice Canada’s management already knew about the smuggling recruitment allegations against Pastukhov but did not have much evidence to support it, two sources said.

On February 16, 2016, a small group of staff were then called into the Vice office for 6 a.m. — long before their normal work day began, according to someone who witnessed the meeting.

Those staff members met as a group with Patrick McGuire, Vice Canada’s head of content and long-time Vice employee; Jared Russell, from Vice’s human resources department; and two lawyers, according to a witness. The source said some staffers told their stories and were then sent back to their desks in the office.

When Pastukhov came to work around noon that day, he was summoned into a closed door meeting, then another, and then he grabbed his laptop and left the office, two witnesses said.

In a written statement, Scott C. Hutchison, a partner with the Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison, told the Post: “Vice Canada reached out quickly to engage our firm in order to conduct a thorough investigation of serious allegations of illicit conduct by a now former Vice Employee. They acted swiftly and professionally in their outreach to our firm.”

According to a statement by Vice Canada’s Ball, “Our internal investigation, conducted by counsel, made contact with (Toronto police). However, we’re not going to provide any further comment on that aspect out of respect for any potential ongoing police investigation.”

Toronto police could find no record in the police database of Vice, Henein Hutchison or Hutchison himself making an official report on Pastukhov, or on allegations like the ones against Pastukhov.

“To this date, we have not found any reports of this nature from them contacting police,” Const. David Hopkinson told the Post.

Although at least one of those who had complained said they were quietly told that Pastukhov had been fired and asked to tell management if he contacted them, employees as a whole were not informed, according to several staff members.

One current senior employee said Pastukhov’s departure was mentioned at an editorial meeting but no reason was given.

“It would have been helpful to clear the air,” said a staffer who left Vice in recent months. “It was radio silence completely. Like, no one knew what was going on; a person who had been in the office for so long just suddenly left, disappeared.”

Pearson offered a different opinion: “It was speedily and appropriately handled,” he said.

In a statement, Ball said, “Our internal investigation dealt with allegations that were brought forward by employees in early 2016. (Vice Canada’s) response to this situation was guided by legal advice and applicable laws, including maintaining confidentiality. During that investigation, no other names or allegations came forward. The employee in question was terminated on Feb 16th 2016 and neither before nor since that date have any employees come forward with similar allegations.”

On February 17, 2016, the day after Vice fired Pastukhov, it published one final piece under his byline (“We Asked a Lawyer About Ciara’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Future”). He has not since been featured on any of the company’s media properties.

Perhaps he figured out who told his bosses about his alleged activities. That June, Pastukhov tweeted: “friendly reminder that journalists are just professional snitches.”

As for Gardner and his co-accused, they await their fate in Australia. Sentencing for those who pleaded guilty is set for next week. The maximum penalty for smuggling a commercial quantity of cocaine into Australia is life imprisonment.

Havas said Gardner wants to help others avoid the same fate.

“I don’t fucking bullshit: these guys do not deserve what’s about to happen to them. He wants other people to know that he made a mistake and do not make the same mistake he made.

“He’s thrown away a large portion of his life. He’s been in jail while his album has been released, by Èbony. All these opportunities have gone to waste,” said Havas, adding: “Go buy the rap album.”

National Post
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


TRIBE Member
You only see intelligent criminals in the movies. In real life criminals are stupid. How dumb do you have to be to think you can get away with smuggling overseas today? They have trained professionals that sit behind mirrored glass or watch on camera who can tell by the way you are walking, your expressions...etc. They pick you out based on your attitude and mannerisms like a poker player would. They have fucking dogs. They have x ray machines, people familiar with every trick in the book inspecting your bags hands on. They have lists of suspected criminal organization associates (like the 3 Canadian girls who got caught recently going to Australia as well on that cruise were dealing with a guy who had prior convictions), and this is Australia! Also, you should probably research the country your smuggling into before making your decision. It's $300 a gram there. Why? Because they don't want fucking drugs there and are scarce as fuck.

And for 10 grand? LMAO, what are you going to do with that massive amount of money? How poor do you have to be? Even making minimum wage thats a few months income.

An aspiring talented dj, already getting some fame, probably lots of hot pussy, and life by the balls. Now facing maybe many years in a room alone and being ass raped. I find it hard to even feel sympathy for these people. And I'm of the belief that drugs should be legal, and stupid laws cause a lot of functional working good human beings to have their life destroyed over buying and selling something for personal use that harms no one else. But this is next level dumb to try. It's like playing the lottery really except with the lottery you don't end up in jail with one toothed willie thinking you look better than the dingo he last shagged.
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