Vice News holds tremendous cachet with millions of monthly readers and listeners — predominantly young men — each month around the world.
But the drug culture it glamorizes in its content has spilled over into the real world with the arrest of a then-Vice editor for alleged cocaine smuggling.
“In December 2015, five young people were arrested in Australia during a botched drug trafficking attempt,” wrote The Ringer’s Kate Knibbs. “In September 2019, their handler Yaroslav Pastukhov—a onetime Vice Canada editor known as Slava P.—pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine. Slava admits his involvement in the scheme, and expects to serve time in prison.”
Slava P., whose real name is, Yaroslav Pastukhov, reportedly started cocaine running while working for Vice Media’s music vertical, Noisey.
“After dabbling in humor writing and stand-up comedy, Slava got his first big break writing for Noisey in his early 20s,” Knibbs reported. “He saw journalism as a means to an end. ‘I just wanted to talk to rappers,’ Slava reminisced. ‘Being an editor sucks.’ … He looked like a Vice Bro, big and brash, and he embraced the cocaine-logic attitude that defined the company’s early years. He had a modest salary—slightly more than 30,000 U.S. dollars per year—so he’d expense ride shares to galleries to guzzle the free drinks, using Vice’s cultural capital to compensate for paltry wages.”
Vice’s embracing of drug culture, making it cool and mainstream, caught up with Pastukhov.
“Slava admits that he helped organize a botched December 2015 drug trafficking attempt, in which four young Canadians and one young American were arrested at the airport in Sydney, Australia while carrying 39.76 kilograms of cocaine wrapped into bricks and hidden in the lining of their Samsonite luggage,” Knibbs wrote. “
Jordan Gardner, Kutiba Senusi, Robert Wang, Nathaniel Carty, and Porscha Wade were caught almost immediately. The street value of the drugs in all the luggage between them was an estimated 22.67 million Australian dollars (about 15.4 million U.S. dollars).”
Photo courtesy HBO