Twenty-one current and former students from Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and Appalachian State University were arrested Thursday on charges of dealing drugs at three college campuses in North Carolina.
The students were part of a large drug trafficking ring that sold marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs on campus and at fraternity houses.
The investigation began two years ago when the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency “received information about the sale of illegal drugs on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” the sheriff’s office said.
The investigation revealed that the UNC fraternities Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma, and Beta Theta Pi funneled narcotics on campus between 2017 and 2020 including thousand pounds of marijuana and several hundred kilograms of cocaine.
Federal authorities revealed that estimates from the sale of drugs were not currently available but exceeded $1.5 million.
"Drug trafficking ring that funneled thousands of pounds of marijuana, hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and other drugs through on the campuses of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and Appalachian State University."https://t.co/gKi7DG1lzD
— Sven-Eric Jordt (@sejordt) December 17, 2020
The drug traffickers are believed to have used the postal system to transport drugs from California to North Carolina. To ship payments through the mail, they used common household appliances such as a toaster to hide bags of vacuum-sealed cash.
Although the investigation is still ongoing, officials revealed that Francisco Javier Ochoa was a primary supplier. Ochoa, 27, from California, supplied about 200 pounds of marijuana and 2 kilograms of cocaine every week to the North Carolina co-defendants.
Ochoa was indicted in November and has already pleaded guilty to the narcotics charges. He now faces 73 months in prison.
Authorities have also identified a Duke student, an Appalachian State student, and two UNC students among the defendants but declined to comment whether they are currently enrolled at any of the schools.