Campuswide drug crackdown nets 25 arrests
ZBT chapter temporarily suspended
Matt Mershon and Mark Rivera
Following 25 arrests made by University police, 21 of which were University students, the Rho chapter of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) at the University has temporarily suspended its operations, according to a press release from the fraternity's national office.
Four of the students arrested were members of the ZBT fraternity, according to University police reports.
This information comes during a drug investigation that spanned the past two semesters. Arrests began on Tuesday and police had no comment as to whether the arrests will continue.
"The fraternity has taken this action in order to cooperate fully with the University of Illinois authorities," said ZBT executive director David Saks.
Raids also occurred at the Beta Theta Pi and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity houses, as well as various apartments across campus. Out of the 25 people arrested, 17 had outstanding warrants against them, and eight arrests were due to probable cause.
Police seized 180 grams of cannabis, along with drug paraphernalia, two vehicles, three flat screen TVs and two laptop computers, said Lt. Roy Acree of the University police department.
Acree said a number of the arrest warrants were issued due to the sale of narcotics.
Acree would not comment on rumors as to whether undercover officers dressed as delivery men were used in the investigation, but added that undercover officers were utilized.
Additionally, a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority was arrested on a drug-related warrant.
"It wasn't necessarily that we were going after that house, we were going after a person that had a warrant for their arrest," Acree said. "The vast majority of the students who live in these fraternities or sorority had nothing to do with this drug investigation."
As of press time, the sorority had not yet commented on the arrest.
According to Acree, these arrests were made as part of a larger initiative.
"You're always trying to build from the lower guy. The perfect scenario would be to take us all the way to wherever these drugs are coming from," he said.
Robin Kaler, spokesperson for the University, said the University police department is trying to send a message.
"We are an institution that's saying that (drug use) is not tolerated here," she said. "The University was aware of the plan to make arrests."
The University will be filing individual investigations into all matters, said Robert Wilczynski, University assistant dean of housing.
"Once we have access to the police reports, we will be conducting a disciplinary investigation of students who are alleged to either possess marijuana or have specifically dealt or distributed," he added.
He said if convicted, students found guilty of distributing illegal substances face at least a two year dismissal from the University.
Lt. Acree said the University police investigation was aided by Champaign County and City of Urbana police, due to "manpower issues." He said these agencies helped to serve search and arrest warrants.
Acree said he was not aware of any alcohol violations with the involved fraternities and sorority. He also said an arraignment court was held at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. One suspect's bond amounted to $250,000. Acree said for a suspect to be released, they must provide 10 percent of their bond.
Rachel Small and Kate Szyszka contributed to this report.
University of Illinois
May 5, 2009
Fraternity officials respond to arrests
Campus police bust more chapters over weekend
By Alissa Groeninger, Assignment editor
University Police Lt. Skip Frost confirmed that more arrest warrants were served in an ongoing operation to find drug dealers on campus.
“The majority of these cases were felony warrants, it’s not as if we’re going out and arresting people who are sharing a dime bag with a friend,” Frost said.
“We’re not going to stand by and idly allow known drug transactions to occur on this campus. It’s completely contrary to what the mission of what the academic institution is.”
Frost said the department’s goal is to address the “street-level dealers” who sell to University students.
He said the police have strong cases against those who were arrested.
“For people who are not in the know, you don’t get an arrest warrant issued for you with a $100,000 bond unless you have shown through the course of the investigation that you are a significant dealer,” he said.
He said that the problem involves ecstasy, prescription drugs and cannabis.
With several arrests coming at Greek houses, the national offices of both the sorority and some of the fraternities involved are looking into the issue themselves.
“(Alpha Delta Pi) has obviously been in close contact with their chapter and campus officials at University of Illinois, said Karina Shaver, a media consultant for the sorority. “They expect all of their chapters and their members to uphold their strict anti-drug policies, and while they believe that this is an isolated incident involving only one member of the chapter, they have initiated their formal investigation process to look into it further.”
Thomas Olver, director of communications for the Beta Theta Pi national office, said the fraternity’s headquarters do not think the arrest of one member is a reflection of the University’s entire chapter.
“We’re essentially looking at this at this point as an individual member issue who is facing a legal challenge,” Olver said.
The individual chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon at the University plans to take action against the member of their fraternity who was arrested, said Kevin Mayeux, chief executive officer for the fraternity’s national office.
“I understand he’s been suspended from membership and our internal due process is that after that he’s brought up on trial and the results of that could involve expulsion from the fraternity or some lesser sanction,” Mayeux said.
He added that the national office conducted an investigation and believes that the arrested member was not dealing drugs from the house and that other members were not involved.
Mike Dunn, executive director for the national office of Sigma Chi, acknowledged the arrest of two fraternity members and said his office is ready to cooperate with the University and other authorities involved in the investigation.
“Certainly this isn’t the standards that the fraternity professes, so once that investigation’s completed, and if there is guilt found, we’ll take individual action overall. Or if it ends up being that the investigation is a chapter as a whole, which I doubt very much, we’ll take that type of appropriate action also,” Dunn said.
Robert Wilczynski, assistant dean of students and assistant director of housing, said he thinks every student who attends the University understands that dismissal is probable when one is caught dealing drugs.
Wilczynski said most students who are suspended from the University find that they are accepted back after filing a petition.
He said a discipline committee wants to see that a student has made a reasonable attempt to change their behavior.
Frost said the police department has finished the majority of the operation, although information gained through the process could lead to new cases.
“Surely there will be additional cases that we’ll investigate that will have resulted from this investigation,” Frost said.
“For the most part we’ve made our point, and that point is that drug dealing on campus, we have a zero-tolerance policy for it.”
Matt Mershon contributed to this report.