Fyre Festival site on 'lockdown' by Bahamas government

The festival planned for this weekend in the Bahamas was postponed amid 'chaos.'

ByABC News
April 30, 2017, 12:21 PM

— -- The site in the Bahamas where the now-postponed Fyre Festival was to happen is on "lockdown" by the island country's government.

Private security guards were seen Saturday protecting the main site where people had been slated to sleep in luxury tents.

On Sunday, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism told ABC News, "Customs has the area on lockdown because [festival organizer] Billy [McFarland] has not paid customs duty taxes on the items that he imported" for the event. "He and his staff have left the items with a security company guarding it."

ABC News is attempting to reach McFarland for comment in regard to the tourism ministry's statement.

Customs duty taxes are often levied on goods transported internationally.

Fyre Festival said in a statement Friday that it had to import many items to essentially build a city because the private island of Fyre Cay where the luxury concert event was to take place, lacked "the physical infrastructure" needed "to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests."

News of a lockdown at the site comes after festival organizers released a statement Saturday trying to explain what happened with the festival, which was postponed amid a storm of complaints posted on social media.

The event, tickets for which cost up to thousands of dollars, erupted into what the tourism office called "total disorganization and chaos" after hundreds of prospective concertgoers landed in the Bahamas. The planned lineup included Ja Rule, Daya and Tyga.

On Saturday, the organizers promised in a statement posted to the festival's website that "all festival goers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details."

"Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival," the statement read.

The statement also said that the Fyre Festival was created by technology entrepreneur McFarland and rapper Ja Rule after a "partnership over mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music."

"This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island," the statement continued. "They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get."

The statement then explained that interest in the festival quickly went viral. Festival organizers experienced what they called "roadblocks" after realizing that the island didn't have the infrastructure needed for the event.

"So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city," the statement read. "We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami."

The Fyre Festival organizers said they plan to hold a festival in 2018, but "at a United States beach venue."

Ja Rule spoke out Friday via social media, saying he was "heartbroken" about what happened in the Bahamas. He also maintained that it was not his fault, but he is "taking responsibility" and is "deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this."

McFarland, 25, who told ABC News he was unaware of an investigation into his festival, cited bad weather as the reason why the festival stalled, pointing to a storm that approached the island Wednesday night and broke their water lines.

He added that all attendees slated to attend the festival have now departed the island, unless they were accommodated in rental properties they personally obtained.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism in a statement Friday said it was "extremely disappointed" with how events unfolded around the festival.

"Hundreds of visitors to Exuma were met with total disorganization and chaos," the statement continued. "The event organizers assured us that all measures were taken to ensure a safe and successful event but clearly they did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale."

Hallie Wilson, one attendee who said that she and her friends spent $4,000 to celebrate a friend's bachelorette party, told ABC News that she and more than 100 others landed back in Miami after spending hours trying to get a flight.

"It's been the longest 24 hours of our lives," she added.

Another attendee Trevor DeHass told ABC News that despite the Fyre Festival being promoted as an all-inclusive upscale weekend, he said that he and his friends were served two slices of bread, a slice of cheese and a small salad for dinner Thursday.

ABC News' Courtney Condron, Taylor Maple, Scott Withers and Michael Rothman contributed to this report.