Drug Bust nets 96 at San Diego State

By nEone · May 6, 2008 · ·
  1. nEone
    From CNN:

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  1. bman1
    Nearly 100 Arrested in College Drug Bust
    Posted: 2008-05-06 17:26:01
    Filed Under: Crime News, Nation News
    SAN DIEGO (May 6) - Dozens of San Diego State University students were arrested after a sweeping drug investigation found that some fraternity members openly dealt drugs and one even sent a mass text message advertising cocaine, authorities said Tuesday.
    Two kilograms of cocaine were seized, along with 350 Ecstasy pills, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine, illicit prescription drugs, several guns and at least $60,000 in cash, authorities said.

    Of the 96 people arrested, 75 were students. Eighteen of the students were arrested Tuesday when nine search warrants were executed at various locations including fraternities, said Jesse Rodriguez, San Diego County assistant district attorney.

    The undercover probe, dubbed Operation Sudden Fall, was sparked by the cocaine overdose death of a student in May 2007, authorities said. As the investigation continued, another student, from Mesa College, died Feb. 26 of a cocaine overdose at an SDSU fraternity house, the DEA said.

    Those arrested included a student who was about to receive a criminal justice degree and another who was to receive a master's degree in homeland security.

    "A sad commentary is that when one of these individuals was arrested, they inquired as (to) whether or not his arrest and incarceration would have an effect on him becoming a federal law enforcement officer," said Ralph Partridge, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego.

    Some defendants were scheduled to appear in state court to face charges Tuesday.

    During the probe investigators discovered that in some fraternities most members were aware of "organized drug dealing occurring from the fraternity houses by its members," the DEA said in a news release.

    "Undercover agents purchased cocaine from fraternity members and confirmed that a hierarchy existed for the purpose of selling drugs for money," the DEA said.

    The district attorney's office said search warrants were served in San Diego and suburban La Mesa, including the Theta Chi fraternity house and several apartments.

    A member of Theta Chi sent out a mass text message to his "faithful customers" stating that he and his "associates" would be unable to sell cocaine while they were in Las Vegas over one weekend, according to the DEA. The text promoted a cocaine "sale" and listed the reduced prices.

    Theta Chi's San Diego chapter declined to comment.

    "We're talking to our advisers," said John Phillips, a past president of the chapter.

    Theta Chi, founded in 1856, has 131 chapters in the U.S. and Canada and more than 161,000 initiates.

    University police and federal drug agents worked together in the investigation, making more than 130 undercover drug buys were made at locations including fraternity houses, student parking areas and dormitories, authorities said.

    Shawn Collinsworth, executive director of the national office of Phi Kappa Psi, said he was told by two of the SDSU fraternity chapter's leaders that four of its members were arrested. He said the fraternity is cooperating with the investigation.

    "It isn't behavior becoming of Phi Kappa Psi," Collinsworth said.

    San Diego State is one of the largest schools in California's state university system with about 34,000 students. The campus has an active network of fraternities and sororities.

    Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Greg Risling in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

    To think of the lives destroyed by the arrests, not the drug.
  2. Shampoo
    I have a good friend who was woken up in the middle of the night, scared pantsless in his dorm-room during these raids, thinking his freezer was about to be raided. He had, amongst a pile of other baggies, his 2c-b-fly, ready to flush down the toilet, when the helicopters left and the cars drove away. He called me afterwards, still half-panicked, asking how much tempazepam he could safely eat...

    On a funny note, the student who was planning to attain a degree in homeland security also worked for the campus-security force, busting pot-smokers and loud, after-hours musicians.
  3. Salvinorin A
    Yeah...swim's buddy down there (who luckily stopped doing illegal things about a month ago....didn't have any problems.

    However....he commented that the DEA is just awful. They spent a year.....and got practically nothing (in comparison to what there was). They just busted some frat house.

    The real source is pretty much Mexico (the weed could be anywhere too swim guesses....but all the other stuff...). Over a year....they couldn't work their way up the ladder to see who was trafficking it across the border? Isn't THAT the real problem.....not a bunch of college kids who just happened to be buying some.

    They got like about 200 grand worth of drugs....and some cash...but seriously....they didn't really accomplish much in the bigger picture of things.

    SWIM personally thinks it was definitely a big bust...but kind of agrees with his buddy.....something more could have been done than just cause problems for a lot of students (well...the students caused it themselves really....but busting them didn't seem necessary). The guns, $60K, 2 keys of coke and a bunch of that weed from that house is a decent bust....but busting all the other buyers involved seems a little unnecessary. In swim's opinion that is.

    SWIM has narcs in his school (of course he wishes he knew who it was).....and they made a bust back in 2001.....that bust at least convicted the kids who were bringing it in and huge distributers (just like this raid in this SD scenario), except the police here didn't waste time busting probably over 100 of the buyers...would have caused quite a few problems for so many students.

  4. savingJenniB
    My Aunt has been watching this "big bust" on local TV.
    It really kind of burns her ass that they are displaying these guns with the bags of bud, coke & XTC. The guns appear to be service guns and most likely have nothing to do with the drugs. Most of the people arrested with simply students purchasing very small amounts for personal use. What a lot of hype!!!
  5. Panthers007
    How nice. Used to be you went to college to learn and have fun. Daddy & Mummy gave you a credit-card and, maybe, a car. Now they have to up the ante - give Buddy or Sis a lawyer!

    Great. Attack the campuses. Git 'dem doity freeks!

    Oh - why didn't they go after the smugglers? The DEA ARE the smugglers.
  6. bman1
    fraternities suspended in drug probe at San Diego State U.
    2008-05-07 09:56:01
    By ALLISON HOFFMAN Associated Press Writer

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego State University has suspended six fraternities after a sweeping drug investigation that landed dozens of students in jail on suspicion of openly dealing drugs on campus.

    The probe — prompted by the cocaine overdose death last year of a freshman sorority member — led to the arrests of 96 people, 75 of them San Diego State students. A second drug death occurred during the investigation.

    Twenty-nine people were arrested early Tuesday in raids at nine locations including the Theta Chi fraternity, where agents found cocaine, Ecstasy and three guns, authorities said. Eighteen of those arrested were wanted on warrants for selling to undercover agents.

    Theta Chi and five other fraternities have been suspended pending a hearing on evidence gathered during the investigation, dubbed Operation Sudden Fall.

    All of the arrested students have been suspended and will be barred from attending classes or taking final exams until their cases are reviewed, San Diego State President Stephen Weber said in a statement. Those who live in university-owned housing were evicted, he added.

    "If guilty, they have ruined an untold number of lives," Weber said. "We are determined to remove people from our community who have placed our students at risk."

    Authorities said some fraternity members openly dealt drugs, and that one sent a mass text message advertising special prices on cocaine. Two kilograms of cocaine were seized in all, along with 350 Ecstasy pills, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine, illicit prescription drugs, several guns and at least $60,000 in cash, authorities said.

    Profits may have been used to finance fraternity operations, according to an affidavit.

    A member of Theta Chi sent out a mass text message to his "faithful customers" stating that he and his "associates" would be unable to sell cocaine while they were in Las Vegas for a fraternity formal, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The text promoted a cocaine "sale" and listed the reduced prices on bulk quantities.

    "Attn faithful customers both myself and my associates will be in Vegas this coming weekend," the 19-year-old student wrote in the text message. "So stock up, we will be back Sunday night."

    Those arrested included a student who was about to receive a criminal justice degree and another who was to receive a master's degree in homeland security.

    The Greek (fraternity and sorority) system at San Diego State has about 3,000 students, out of an enrollment of 34,000, but Fraternity Row plays an outsized role in campus life. It sits a block from Cox Arena, home to many college sporting events.

    Dale Taylor, national executive director of Theta Chi, said he was "obviously shocked and saddened" by the allegations. Theta Chi prohibited the San Diego chapter from group activities such as parties or sports activities and will investigate additional disciplinary measures, up to expulsion of members or the entire chapter.

    The San Diego chapter, founded 61 years ago, was the first national fraternity on campus and has 65 members.

    The chapter declined to comment. It occupies two low-slung homes a block off Fraternity Row, with large red and white Greek symbols propped on the roof.

    Theta Chi has 131 chapters in the U.S. and Canada and more than 161,000 initiates. It was founded in 1856.

    Besides Theta Chi, the other suspended fraternities are Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Theta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Mu.

    University police launched their investigation into drug sales on campus after Shirley Poliakoff, 19, died from a cocaine overdose in May 2007. Investigators discovered many students in fraternities were aware of organized drug dealing within their houses.

    As the investigation continued, another student, from Mesa College, died of a cocaine overdose at an SDSU fraternity house on Feb. 26, the DEA said.

    Some drugs bought and sold by students were traced to gangs linked to Mexican cartels, according to the DEA. Agents collected about $100,000 worth of drugs that were being advertised in "resale quantities" between members of the fraternity and other students.

    bman1 added 788 Minutes and 47 Seconds later...

    Feds penetrated drug culture easily at San Diego State
    2008-05-07 21:16:17
    By ALLISON HOFFMAN Associated Press Writer

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Undercover agents who posed as college students to bust more than 100 suspected drug dealers at San Diego State University never had to crack a book to gain acceptance on campus. All it took was cash.

    The federal agents went to one or two parties but never actually went to class or lived in the dorms. Instead, they merely arranged meetings with suspected dealers and asked about buying cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs, authorities said Wednesday.

    "All it took was saying, `Hey, I go to State, can you hook me up?'" said San Diego County prosecutor Damon Mosler. "And then it was off to the races."

    The day after the drug sweep landed members of three fraternities in jail and led to the suspension of six frats, investigators revealed how easy it was to penetrate the university's drug culture.

    Students who had gotten caught for fighting, drinking, minor drug offenses or other crimes quickly turned informants and used text messages to introduce their drug dealers to undercover agents. Dealers made handoffs in front of dorms, in parking lots or behind frat houses, sometimes in broad daylight in full view of surveillance cameras.

    They apparently made little effort to launder their spoils. One fraternity brother arrested Tuesday drove his Lexus directly from a $400 cocaine sale on campus to a nearby bank, where he deposited the cash, according to court papers.

    That came as a surprise to agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, who were used to being thoroughly screened by dealers scared of being arrested.

    "They never gave any thought that we could be doing an operation there," said Eileen Zeidler, a spokeswoman for the DEA office in San Diego.

    At least 75 people arrested during the five-month sting were San Diego State students, and 13 of them were from seven fraternities. All together, there were 128 arrests, 61 on Tuesday. Theta Chi had the highest number of students arrested, with five.

    Campus police started the probe a year ago after the cocaine overdose death of a freshman sorority member, but they soon called in federal agents to provide fresh faces on campus and supply the money needed to make drug buys.

    That was a major departure from the arms'-length relationship that has existed between colleges and police since the 1960s. For decades, police in many communities have largely turned a blind eye to drugs on campus.

    The DEA had been on campus at San Diego State before, to help investigate a student suspected of cooking methamphetamine for his own use in a campus chemistry lab, and campus police said they cooperated with the FBI after receiving a hoax threat in the wake of last year's Virginia Tech shootings. Yet the invitation to federal authorities was unusual because it involved an open-ended investigation that didn't involve a violent crime.

    "In general, universities are pretty jealous of their prerogatives and are uneasy about welcoming outside authorities onto campus," said Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University,a former student radical and a leading authority on the '60s counterculture. "There's a real reluctance at universities to call on outside police."

    University President Stephen Weber defended the decision to bring federal authorities onto campus.

    "Some have asked what we think this publicity has done for SDSU's reputation. I have told them I am proud of the action taken by SDSU to proactively address this serious threat to our students," Weber said in a statement Wednesday. "As a parent I would want my son or daughter to attend a university committed to providing the safest possible environment."

    Some students and parents complained that the bust was heavy-handed.

    Danielle Patterson, a sophomore sorority member, said she was awake cramming for finals when agents raided an apartment behind her building, pounding on doors and marching boys down the block to the college arena, where they were questioned.

    "I never thought something like that would happen here," she said. "To think they think drugs are such a big issue here, it's ridiculous."

    Parents joined students at a campus rally Wednesday calling for more drug-abuse treatment instead of tougher enforcement.

    "This heavy hand coming down is not going to change drug use on campus," said Gretchen Burns-Bergman, whose son is a month away from graduating. "There's not going to be a shortage of drugs on campus."

    During the investigation, agents quickly worked their way to Fraternity Row, where the main target was Theta Chi. They discovered six of its members were operating a sophisticated drug business, with younger "apprentice" members accompanying older members to drug deals in order to learn how the business was run, authorities say.

    The ringleader, a 19-year-old, brazenly sent out text messages advertising weekend blowout sales on cocaine, authorities say. Apart from that, however, the fraternity did little to attract attention. In fact, it was known for having a no-alcohol policy at its rundown gray house.

    "Theta Chi did not have that reputation, nothing that would have led us to suspect they were the primary purveyors," said Lt. Lamine Secka of the campus police.

    One informant told investigators the profits from drug sales were being plowed back into the fraternity's operating budget, according to prosecutors.

    The university's fraternities and sororities have about 3,000 members, but they play an outsized role in campus life at the 34,000-student school.

    A lawyer for one student arrested last week with about $15,000 worth of cocaine and marijuana did not immediately return a call. The names of the lawyers for some of other defendants could not immediately be learned.
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