Five students at prestigious Columbia University in New York City have been arrested for allegedly selling drugs out of fraternity houses and dorms. The arrests follow a five month investigation known as "Operation Ivy League."
The students, all undergraduates, are accused of selling a "variety of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, ectasty, Adderall and LSD," according to a statement released by Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
"In some cases, LSD, a liquid hallucinogen, was applied to Altoids mints and SweetTarts candy," said Brennan.
Chris Coles, Harrison David, Adam Klein and Jose Stephan Perez, all age 20, were all arrested earlier today on the Manhattan campus, along with 22-year-old Michael Wymbs. Three of the five were arrested at their fraternity houses while the others were cuffed inside an Intercultural House on campus and another on-campus housing facility.
During searches of the suspects' homes following their arrests, authorities say they found a stockpile of drugs, including a bottle of LSD, 50 ectasy capsules, 15 Adderall pills, more than a half-pound of marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash.
Those arrested include a neuroscience major, a former student council vice president and a Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient.
Also taken into custody were three of the students' drug suppliers, including one who is charged with plotting to kidnap a pair of rival cocaine traffickers, according to Brennan's statement.
The students are awaiting arraignment. They were led into a Manhattan courtroom shackled together, some wearing Columbia and fraternity sweat shirts.
"The students arrested today supplied dangerous substances to their friends and other students to turn a quick profit, but subjected themselves to risks, of which they were either ignorant or in denial," said Brennan. "These students were playing with fire."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the students' behavior was "no way to work your way through college."
According to the investigators, most of the sales took place in the common areas of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha and Psi Upsilon.
Columbia University released a statement acknowledging the arrests and also urged students to seek help if they are battling drug or alcohol problems.
"As you will likely hear from one another or read in the news, this morning the NYPD arrested five Columbia students in connection with an investigation into illegal drug activity," said Robert Hornsby, director of media relations for the university. "The alleged behavior of the students involved in this incident goes against not only state and federal law, but also university policy and the principles we have set—and strive together to maintain—for our community. Please rest assured we are taking this matter very seriously."
"Each of us, through our individual behavior and actions, helps define our campus environment," he added. "Decisions made by individuals affect the community as a whole. Please consider the potential impact of your actions on both your individual lives and the university community at-large."
Authorities: Students Ran Specialized Drug OperationInvestigators say that each student "specialized" in selling specific drugs and would "refer customers to one another." Undercover authorities purchasing drugs from the students made nearly $11,000 in deals, according to Brennan.
During the investigation authorities were able to find and arrest three of the students' alleged dealers, including accused cocaine dealers Roberto Lagares and Miron Sarzynski, who would also offer customers LSD and DMT, or dimethyltriptamine. Sarzynski's girlfriend, Megan Asper, was also arrested. Authorities say Asper "specialized in growing marijuana" out of the couple's apartment.
Students who witnessed the arrests told the student newspaper, The Columbia Spectator that the bust was so loud, it sounded "like an earthquake."
"It was very loud, very aggressive, the way it went down," Destiny Sullens, a Columbia student told the paper.
One student who belongs to a fraternity where some of the arrests were made told the paper, "I'm as good as I can be, knowing that my friends are going to prison."
The Associated Press contributed to this report