Feds Bust Drug Ring That Used Frats to Funnel Drugs to UNC, Duke, App State Students
The primary supplier trafficked 200 pounds of marijuana and two kilograms of cocaine on a weekly basis, officials say.
Nearly two dozen people, including current and former students, are facing charges for their alleged involvement in a large-scale drug trafficking ring that supplied cocaine and marijuana to students at three major North Carolina universities.
The 21 defendants are accused of funneling the drugs, often through fraternities, to students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and Appalachian State University, reports Yahoo News.
According to court documents, the UNC chapters of Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma and Beta Theta Pi were all involved in illegal drug activity between 2017 and the spring of 2020.
Although federal authorities declined to say how many are currently or formerly enrolled at any of the schools, investigators have linked an Appalachian State fraternity member, who they allege sold the drugs to both App State students and people in Chapel Hill, reports Fox 23. A female Duke student is also accused of distributing cocaine to other Duke students and to UNC fraternity members.
“This investigation reveals that the fraternity culture at these universities is dangerous. University administrators and national chapters cannot turn a blind eye to the impact on these students and the environment on their respective college campuses,” said U.S. Attorney Matt Martin. “The drug culture feeds many other problems on campus and in our society. University administrators must take a stand and put a stop to it.”
The two-year investigation examined about $1.5 million in drug sales, officials said. The alleged traffickers transported the drugs from California to North Carolina through the U.S. Postal Service and would also ship payments through the mail by hiding vacuum-sealed money inside household appliances, according to investigators.
“It unfolded unlike any other case I’ve seen in my 40 years in law enforcement,” said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood. “Brazen attitudes, casual use of high volumes of drugs and then the network started to unfold.”
According to officials, the primary supplier, 27-year-old Javier Ochoa, supplied 200 pounds of marijuana and two kilograms of cocaine on a weekly basis to the co-defendants. Ochoa pleaded guilty to federal narcotics charges in November and was sentenced to 73 months in prison.
“I want to make it very clear, this is not a situation where you have casual users, where you have a 19-year-old sipping a beer or you have someone taking a puff off a joint on the back porch of the fraternity house,” said Martin. “These are 21 hardened drug dealers. This conspiracy moved thousands of pounds of marijuana over the course of several years, hundreds of kilos of cocaine.”
Officials at all three campuses released statements indicating they are cooperating with investigators.