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San Diego State Drug Bust - SDSU Drug Raid

Updated on May 6, 2008
A Drug Enforcement Administration photo shows a cell phone message discussing sales.
A Drug Enforcement Administration photo shows a cell phone message discussing sales.
A Drug Enforcement Administration photo shows a dorm room where marijuana was grown.
A Drug Enforcement Administration photo shows a dorm room where marijuana was grown.
Evidence collected during the yearlong drug investigation as San Diego State University. .
Evidence collected during the yearlong drug investigation as San Diego State University. .
Officials, including SDSU President Stephen L. Weber, discuss the investigation.
Officials, including SDSU President Stephen L. Weber, discuss the investigation.

SDSU Drug Raid Bust

SAN DIEGO - A yearlong investigation at San Diego State University has resulted in 96 people being arrested on drug-related charges, including 75 students, officials said Tuesday.

Eighteen SDSU students were taken into custody Tuesday morning and other related arrests have taken place over the past 12 months, San Diego State University Police Chief John Browning said.

The investigation - dubbed Operation Sudden Fall - was launched a year ago by campus police and targeted people suspected of selling illegal drugs to SDSU students, Browning said. About five months ago, federal drug agents joined the probe.

Ralph Patridge, a special agent with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, said more than 130 undercover drug buys were made over the past five months.

"The scope of the problem became quickly apparent," Patridge said. "These undercover buys were for a variety of illicit drugs, at fraternity houses, student parking, in front of campus dormitories and at various locations off campus," he said.

He said the operation was named "Operation Sudden Fall" because individuals who use or sell illicit drugs are setting themselves up for "a sudden fall."

Students that were arrested have been suspended, pending a due-process review. Those living in campus housing have also been arrested, Browning said.

"SDSU will continue to do what is necessary, through both enforcement and education, to encourage our students to make the responsible choices to ensure the health and safety of our campus community," SDSU president Stephen Weber said in a release.

Items seized in the investigation included marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy pills, mushrooms, methamphetamine, illicit prescription drugs, one shotgun and three semi-automatic pistols. About $60,000 in cash also was seized, Browning said.

The investigation was launched after a student died of a cocaine overdose a year ago.

Shirley Jennifer Poliakoff, 19, was found dead on the morning of May 6, 2007 in her Aztec Corner apartment. She was a member of Alphi Phi sorority.

A county Medical Examiner's investigator said Poliakoff died from acute cocaine and ethanol intoxication. The death was ruled accidental.

During the course of the investigation, a second drug overdose near campus was reported. In February, a 22-year-old Mesa College student was was found dead of an accidental cocaine oversdose in an SDSU fraternity house.

"A sad commentary is that when one of thse individuals was arrested, they inquired as to whether or not his arrest and incarceration would have an effect on his becoming a federal law enfocement officer," Patridge said.

Officials said one of the students arrested on suspicion of selling cocaine was a month away from getting his master's degree in homeland security and another worked as a student community service officer and reported to campus police.

Advertisement A student majoring in criminal justice was arrested for possession of 500 grams of cocaine and two guns, officials said.

As part of the investigation, officers infiltrated seven campus fraternities. In some fraternities, most of the members were aware of organized drug dealing occuring from the houses by members, officials said.

In one instance, a member of the Theta Chi fraternity sent out a mass text message to his "faithful customers" stating that he and his associates would be in Las Vegas for the weekend and cocaine sales could not be made.

The message said there was a "sale" on cocaine and listed reduced prices.


Police have arrested 96 people - 75 of them students - in a drug bust at San Diego State University, law enforcement sources say.

Police picked up the individuals for charges stemming from possession and sales of cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and other drugs.

Authorities say among those arrested was a student who worked as an employee of the campus police and was one month away from graduating with a masters degree in Homeland Security. Another suspect found with 500 grams of cocaine and two guns is a criminal justice major.

As part of the investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency and San Diego State University police say they infiltrated seven fraternities on campus, finding that most or all of the members were aware of the drug dealing activity in their organizations.

Law enforcement sources gave one example of a fraternity member who sent a text message to his "faithful customers," alerting them that he and his "associates" were headed to Las Vegas for a few days and would be unavailable for transactions - but in the message he allegedly sent, he mentioned "sale" prices on cocaine.

The crackdown by the DEA and San Diego State University Police came after two accidental cocaine overdoses on campus in the past year. The initial undercover operation, dubbed "Operation Sudden Fall," began after a female student died from a cocaine overdose in 2007.

Law enforcement sources say that in February, while the operation was under way, an SDSU student died from an accidental overdose of cocaine in a fraternity house.

Police served nine search warrants; evidence recovered included four pounds of cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana, marijuana plants and other assorted drugs including ecstasy pills, mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine and prescription drugs.

Additionally, police say they found a shotgun, three semi-automatic pistols, brass knuckles and $60,000 cash.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Authorities have arrested nearly 100 people and seized guns and drugs in a sting operation at San Diego State University in California, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Tuesday.

Among those arrested were 75 students, some of them working toward criminal justice or homeland security degrees. One criminal justice major was charged with possession of guns and cocaine, authorities said.

One student sent a mass text message offering a "sale" on cocaine, the DEA said in a news release.

Campus police and the DEA began their undercover operation after the death of a student from an overdose in May 2007, the news release said. A second overdose death occurred as recently as February at a fraternity house.

"DEA agents infiltrated several student drug distribution cells and more than 130 drug purchases and seizures were made" during the investigation known as Operation Sudden Fall, the news release said.

Officials arrested 75 students and 21 non-students on a variety of drug charges, including selling cocaine.

Authorities say they infiltrated seven campus fraternities and found that in some, most of the students were aware of drug dealing by fraternity brothers.

The news release alleges a member of the Theta Chi fraternity sent a mass text message to his "faithful customers" saying he and some others temporarily would be unable to complete orders for drug sales due to a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.

The text message went on to discuss a "sale" on cocaine and gave details on reduced prices, the news release said.

One student allegedly dealing cocaine was a month short of obtaining a master's degree in Homeland Security and worked with campus police as a student community service officer.

"This operation shows how accessible and pervasive illegal drugs continue to be on our college campuses, and how common it is for students to be selling to other students," said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Officials say the evidence seized as part of Operation Sudden Fall includes four pounds of cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana and 350 ecstasy pills. Authorities also confiscated a shotgun, three semiautomatic pistols and $60,000


SAN DIEGO (AP) - Nearly 100 people, most of them students, were arrested in an undercover drug investigation at San Diego State University that began after a student's fatal cocaine overdose last spring, authorities said Tuesday.

Authorities seized several guns, at least $60,000 in cash, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine and illicit prescription drugs, authorities said. Two kilograms of cocaine and 350 ecstasy pills also were seized, officials said.

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

About 75 students faced charges. 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. Some defendants were scheduled to appear in state court to face charges Tuesday.

During the probe, dubbed Operation Sudden Fall, more than 130 undercover drug buys were made at locations including fraternity houses, student parking areas and in student dormitories, authorities said.

University police and federal drug agents worked together in the investigation, which was inspired when a student overdosed on cocaine in May 2007.

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.


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