US Attorney Matthew Martin said at a news conference that those arrested were charged with dealing drugs in and around the campuses of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke University and Appalachian State University. He said that many fraternity members were charged, and there could be more arrests.
The investigation began in 2018, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina, and the first person was charged in November 2019. The rest were charged between July and December.
The news release said the investigation by the American Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office revealed drug activity of members of several fraternal organizations at state universities.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, court filings specifically accuse illegal drug activity involving the UNC chapters of Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma and Beta Theta Pie between spring and 2017 of this year.
The US Attorney’s Office said that one of the 21 defendants was a student at Duke University, who allegedly distributed cocaine to fellow students and members of the fraternity from UNC-Chapel Hill.
The news release said two students at Appalachian State University in Boone were charged with distributing drugs for fellow students, particularly LSD and cocaine.
Martin said that over the years, the suspects allegedly transferred more than a thousand pounds of marijuana and hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and other drugs through their supply chain. According to the DEA, the drug exceeded $ 1.5 million.
“It’s about saving lives,” Martin told reporters on Thursday. “It’s really a public health crisis. We really have to stand together, cut down on supply.”
DEA Special Agent Robert Murphy said in a news release, “The drug trafficking crimes of these fraternity members contributed to a toxic and dangerous environment on these college campuses. The arrest of these drug traffickers on these college campuses and their Makes related communities safer. “
In a CNN statement, the three universities said they are cooperating in law enforcement.
“The Duke will respond according to our disciplinary process,” said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s chief communications officer.
Chancellor Kevin M. of UNC-Chapel Hill Guskowicz said the school was “very disappointed to learn of these alleged actions on our campus.”
A statement from the Appalachian State stated that the officers are “committed to providing a safe campus, and will continue their work to support education and prevention as well as student conduct and use of law enforcement procedures.”
The accused states that at least one of the accused has been convicted. One, Francisco Xavier Ochoa, 27, Turlock, California, pleaded guilty last month to drug conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 73 months in prison.
The national offices of the three fraternities at UNC issued statements to CNN on Thursday after the allegations were announced.
“It is shocking to learn of allegations involving our chapter and others at the University of North Carolina,” read the Phi Gamma Delta Statement. “These allegations are very serious, suggest conduct that violates our policies and values, and we have zero tolerance for perceived actions. We are committed to fully understanding the involvement of our members in law enforcement and the university’s Committed to working together. “
Beta Theta Pie said the allegations included one of its members who graduated last year.
“The fraternity does not tolerate the possession, sale, distribution or use of illicit substances and maintains its chapters to high standards in order to maintain a safe environment for all students,” Beta Theta Pie said. “We are working closely with our graduates, volunteers and UNC administrators to determine the next step and appropriate action will be taken as new information becomes available.”
Kappa Sigma’s national organization said its leadership is “very concerned” about the allegations and will investigate them internally.
The local chapter of the fraternity states that two of the graduating seniors were among those arrested.
Alpha Mu Chapter of Kappa Sigma said in a statement, “These two individuals do not act as representatives of the organization and are in violation of the Code of Conduct and the chapter.” “The members were officially suspended on 3 November pending expulsion. As an organization and as a leadership we are doing everything in our power to assist in the investigation and with the authorities as a whole Willing to cooperate. “