North Carolina fraternity members, students allegedly trafficked $1.5M in drugs

Three North Carolina universities have been named in the investigation

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Three North Carolina universities are in the middle of a $1.5 million drug bust involving fraternity members and students according to a federal investigation revealed on Thursday.

According to BuzzFeed News, students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Appalachian State University – helped to trafficked more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, several hundred kilograms of cocaine, and large quantities of other drugs including ecstasy both on and around the campuses.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(Credit: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

The Department of Justice’s official statement reported that 21 people will face federal charges and that a November 2018 investigation was initiated after discovering the distribution of cocaine, steroids, human growth hormones, and other illegal drugs took place in the Chapel Hill area.

Of the 21 people, the youngest is 21-years-old.

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According to court filings, the UNC chapters of Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma, and Beta Theta Pi were involved in drug activity between 2017 and the spring of 2020 that far exceeded $1.5 million dollars.

The investigation found 27-year-old Javier Ocha of Turlock, California as the supplier and has pleaded guilty to charges of federal narcotics in November. He was sentenced to 73 months in prison, according to NBC News.

“Investigators discovered that individuals were shipping cocaine from California via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and transporting marihuana by motor vehicle. Involved parties shipped bulk cash proceeds from illegal drug transactions through the USPS,” the official statement said. “Other proceeds, estimated to be approximately $1.3 million dollars, transferred hands through financial institutions utilizing money orders, Western Union, and mobile payment applications.”

Matthew Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, said in a press release that those charged could face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison to possible life, as reported by WRAL News.

“No one is above the law, including college students and fraternity members at elite universities. This serious drug trafficking is destructive and reckless, and many lives have been ruined,” Martin said.

He urged university officials to not “turn a blind eye.”

“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,” Martin said.

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Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said the drug bust only contributed to a “toxic and dangerous environment” for other students.

“College communities should be a safe haven for young adults to obtain a higher education, not a place where illegal drugs are easily accessible,” Murphy said. “The arrest of these drug traffickers makes these college campuses and their respective communities safer.”

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