Five students at Columbia University in New York and three alleged off-campus suppliers were arrested as part of a ring that sold drugs at fraternity houses and other on-campus residences, police said.
The eight suspects were indicted and arrested today after a five-month investigation called “Operation Ivy League,” authorities said. Undercover officers spent $11,000 in 31 purchases of drugs including cocaine, marijuana, powdered MDMA or ecstasy, and LSD-laced Altoids mints and Sweetarts candy, the New York City Police Department and Bridget G. Brennan, the city’s special narcotics prosecutor, said in a statement.
“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,” Brennan said in the statement.
Most of the sales took place in common areas and bedrooms at the Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha and Psi Upsilon fraternities, according to the statement. Two students allegedly sold drugs from their rooms at the Intercultural House and East Campus Housing.
Columbia prohibits the possession, use, manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs on university premises or during any university activity, and students who violate the school’s policy can face disciplinary measures that can include expulsion, according to the university’s website.
“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,” Columbia told students in a message today, according to an e-mail from school spokesman Robert Hornsby. “Please rest assured we are taking this matter very seriously.”
Columbia, founded in 1754, has about 25,000 students. Graduates include President Barack Obama and Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., who attended Columbia Business School. It is one of eight private schools in the northeastern U.S. that make up the Ivy League.
Alleged suppliers Miron Sarzynski, 23, and his girlfriend, Megan Asper, 22, were arrested on Oct. 27 in the East Village section of Manhattan, the statement said. Sarzynski allegedly sold drugs to undercover officers seven times and made drugs at his apartment on East Sixth Street.
Searches Yield Drugs
Searches of the students’ rooms this morning yielded a bottle of LSD, 50 capsules of MDMA, 15 Adderall pills, more than half a pound of marijuana and about $2,000 in cash, the statement said. A raid of Sarzynski’s apartment turned up two dozen marijuana plants, equipment for growing marijuana, jars of the drug DMT, a bottle of LSD, $1,200 cash and two air pistols.
Sarzynski is also charged with attempting to kidnap a pair of rival cocaine traffickers who he thought stole money from him, and trying to hire an undercover officer to help him, according to the statement.
Sarzynski’s alleged plan was to kidnap the rival traffickers with a stun gun, hold them for ransom and torture them by giving them a heavy dose of LSD, the statement said. He planned to kill them if they didn’t pay, and handed a vial of LSD to the officer before his arrest.
‘Willing to Kill’
“The fact that a supplier to the Columbia students was willing to kill his rivals should demolish any argument that drugs on campus is a victimless crime,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement. “This is no way to work your way through college.”
The Columbia students were identified as Chris Coles, 20; Harrison David, 20; Adam Klein, 20; Jose Stephan Perez, 20; and Michael Wymbs, 22. They are to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court later today.
A third alleged cocaine supplier, Roberto Lagares, 30, was arrested Dec. 5 at the Kingsborough Houses, a New York City Housing Authority Development in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, according to the police statement.
Psi Upsilon had no “official comment” on today’s events “but will continue to cooperate with the university to ‘get to the bottom of this.’” Paul Warren, president of Pi Kappa Alpha, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment, and Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez Castillo, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, declined to comment in a telephone interview.
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