Federal officials on Tuesday announced that they had arrested 75 San Diego State University students on drug charges, as well as 21 non-students. The announcement came at the culmination of an undercover investigation on San Diego State’s campus -- led by university police and involving federal agents -- launched after a student died of a drug overdose last May.
Individuals were arrested on charges ranging from possessing marijuana to selling cocaine. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported that evidence seized includes four pounds of cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana, 48 hydroponic marijuana plants, 350 ecstasy pills, psilocybin (mushrooms), 30 vials of hash oil, methamphetamine, a variety of illicit prescription drugs, one shotgun, three semiautomatic pistols, three brass knuckles and $60,000 in cash.
In a news release, federal officials said that undercover agents had “infiltrated” seven fraternities, where they were able to purchase cocaine from fraternity members. One member of Theta Chi fraternity allegedly sent a mass text message to “faithful customers” indicating that he and his “associates” would be away in Las Vegas for the weekend and therefore unavailable, but that they were having a cocaine “sale.”
“The use and/or trafficking in illegal substances are inconsistent with our values and with the pursuit of our mission,” San Diego State’s president, Stephen L. Weber, said in a written statement. Students who were arrested have been suspended pending a due process review, he said, and those who lived in university housing have been evicted.
“Certainly today's arrests underscore the scope of the challenges universities face as we fight this major societal problem. We are determined to remove people from our community who have placed our students at risk, and to see that they are turned over to the criminal justice system,” Weber said.
“We tend to think about drug use as something that happens in other places, and not necessarily something that’s happening on our pristine campuses steeped in all of our tradition,” said Tom Hall, director of alcohol and other drug prevention programming at the University of Central Florida and chair of the American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Alcohol and Other Drug Issues.
"I think it’s important to recognize that the market’s going to dictate that people go where there’s opportunity. And strictly from the notion of demand and availability, if there’s a demand, then it’s going to find its way onto your campus,” Hall said.
“I think that a lot of the drug activity other than alcohol is very undercover, very underground,” added Robyn Priest, assistant dean for alcohol and drug education at Boston College and immediate past chair of the ACPA commission. She pointed out that only very small proportions of college students report abusing drugs other than alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications -- but while a distinct minority, those students using other drugs do exist.
“In terms of a massive [drug] operation like this, I think it’s somewhat of a rarity. But then again there is a percentage of students who use other drugs and a pretty solid percentage who use marijuana, so they have to be getting it from somewhere.”