From the frat house to the big house: 96 arrested in San Diego State drug probe
SAN DIEGO (AP) ” An undercover drug probe focused on San Diego State University and some of its fraternities has led to arrests of 96 people, including 75 students, authorities said today.
Eighteen of the students were arrested this morning when nine search warrants were executed at various locations including fraternities, said Jesse Rodriguez, San Diego County assistant district attorney.
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 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a statement.
“Undercover agents purchased cocaine from fraternity members and confirmed that a hierarchy existed for the purpose of selling drugs for money,” the DEA said.
Authorities said they found drugs being moved in resale quantities.
“We’re talking about trafficking,” Stephen Weber, SDSU president, told a news conference.
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 has 131 chapters in the U.S. and Canada and more than 161,000 initiates. It was founded in 1856.
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 proceeded, another student, from Mesa College, died of a cocaine overdose at an SDSU fraternity house on Feb. 26, the DEA said.
During the probe conducted jointly by university police and federal drug agents, more than 130 undercover drug buys were made at locations including fraternity houses, student parking areas and in student dormitories, authorities said.
Among drug seizures were two kilograms of cocaine and some 350 ecstasy pills, officials said.
Arrestees included a person who was about to receive a criminal justice degree and another about 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 DEA in San Diego.
Authorities also seized several guns, at least $60,000 in cash, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine and illicit prescription drugs, the university 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 added the fraternity is cooperating with the investigation.
“It isn’t behavior becoming of Phi Kappa Psi,” Collinsworth said.
Some defendants were scheduled to appear in state court to face charges Tuesday.
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