Diego student cocaine ring smashedChris Ayres in Los Angeles
Students at a San Diego university were offered discount prices on cocaine via mass text-messaging as part of a brazen campus-wide drug-dealing operation, according to American anti-drugs agents.
The claim was made after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested 75 students at San Diego State University and shut down six fraternities - prestigious social organisations typically named with Greek letters.
Suspects include a student who was about to receive a criminal justice degree and another about to get a masters in homeland security.
For the parents of college students, the most shocking allegation by the DEA is that some San Diego frat houses, which provide accommodation for fraternity members as well as host social functions, may have been using profits from drug dealing to finance their own operations.
Over the past year two students at San Diego State have died from cocaine overdoses.
In one raid on the frat house of Theta Chi - the San Diego chapter of a nationwide fraternity - DEA agents found cocaine, Ecstasy and three guns. The chapter has been suspended along with another five fraternities pending a hearing on evidence gathered during this week's sting, codenamed Operation Sudden Fall.
In total two kilograms (4lb) of cocaine were seized, along with 350 Ecstasy pills and quantities of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, several weapons and at least $60,000 (£30,000) in cash. The value of the drugs - some allegedly traced to gangs linked to Mexican cartels - is thought to be about $100,000.
The DEA used agents posing as student drug buyers to help to catch the suspects. It is alleged that mass text-messaging was a crucial marketing tool in the dealing operation. In one case, a 19-year-old member of Theta Chi wrote: “Attn. faithful customers, both myself and my associates will be in Vegas this coming weekend. So stock up, we will be back Sunday night.”
The message went on to list reduced prices on cocaine sold in bulk quantities. There are about 3,000 students at San Diego State enrolled in fraternities or sororities, which are frat houses for women. The organisations are located on a part of the campus known as Fraternity Row.
Dale Taylor, the national executive director of Theta Chi, said that he was “obviously shocked and saddened” by the DEA allegations. Theta Chi has prohibited the San Diego State chapter from group activities such as parties or sports and says that it will consider additional disciplinary measures including expelling individual members or the entire chapter.
The San Diego chapter of Theta Chi was founded 61 years ago and was the first national fraternity on the campus. It has 65 members and occupies two buildings near Fraternity Row, with large red-and-white Greek symbols propped on the roof. Theta Chi has 131 chapters in the US and Canada and more than 161,000 “initiates”.
University police opened their investigation into drug sales on campus after Shirley Poliakoff, 19, died from a cocaine overdose in May last year. They soon discovered that many students in fraternities were aware of organised drug dealing within their houses. In February another student died from a cocaine overdose.
Frat houses are known for their secret rituals, which usually include initiation ceremonies such as “hazing”. In a few high-profile cases students have died during such a ritual.
One exception to Greek naming is the highly secretive Order of Skill and Bones at Yale University, former members of which include George W. Bush and the former presidential candidate John Kerry. America's first fraternity was the Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on December 5, 1776.
A “frat boy” in America usually displays many of the characteristics of a “rugger bugger” in Britain. They are known for drinking prodigious quantities of beer, as depicted by John Belushi in the film Animal House.
and further reading
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
When Is It Best To Take Crack Cocaine?
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