Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

May 12, 2008 -- Daily Aztec (CA Edu)

Column: SDSU Drug Raid: Bogus Sensationalism At Students' Expense

By Tucker Wincele

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Want to know the truth about Operation Sudden Fall? I wouldn't ask the Drug Enforcement Administration, the national news or even Stephen Weber, all of whom have thrown the students of San Diego State under the bus.

Last Tuesday, authorities wrapped up a year-long undercover investigation that began after an SDSU student died of a drug overdose. University officials feared this case was indicative of a larger culture of illegal drug use and invited federal agents to infiltrate the student body.

Breaking news on Tuesday morning made it appear that 96 people were arrested that day, 75 of them students. Impressions were that SDSU fraternities served as organized drug rings with strong gang connections and had been financing themselves with drug trafficking. National cable news companies were quickly on scene, describing with shock and awe to America how embedded the drug dealers were at SDSU.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, it's totally bogus.

Looking beyond the headlines, it becomes clear the DEA wildly distorted figures that have done irreparable damage to the already shaky reputation of this school. Do you think 75 students were arrested Tuesday? Guess again. Only 18 students were actually arrested, less than a dozen of them fraternity members.

Over the entire year-long investigation, an additional 15 students were arrested in conjunction with Operation Sudden Fall. The remaining 42 of the reported 75 students were arrested through routine police work, most of whom were charged with minor possession of marijuana and were unrelated to the DEA's operation.

In essence, this "huge drug bust" amounts to no more than a few individuals with serious drug trafficking charges, and only by lumping in dozens of minor student drug offenders did this case receive the attention it did.

Students should be up in arms over their implied connections to a few shady individuals, but the failure to denounce this unbalanced coverage stems from the continuous barrage of "party school" accusations so commonly leveled at SDSU. Said enough times, many began to accept the label and were not surprised to hear of the raid.

But SDSU is no longer a party school. With an average grade point average of 3.77 for the incoming freshman class, potential $1,000 noise violations and the title of No. 1 small research university in the nation, the truth is that SDSU is a prestigious and competitive university and dismissing it as a party school is grossly inaccurate.

Renewed school pride and anger at the poor generalizations should be students' overwhelming response to this incident. Make no mistake; any degree earned at SDSU will be diminished unless a distinction is made between the criminals and the 99.9 percent of upright, law-abiding students.

It seems logical that those in charge of SDSU would immediately refute and challenge these highly misleading figures by the news and DEA, which reflect so poorly on the institution they've sworn to promote. Yet the media and the government are allowed to make broad, implicating statements that tarnish SDSU's name and unfairly demonize the student body. More needs to be done to explain how small in scope these raids were.

On the flip side, these events could also use a healthy dose of honesty. On SDSU's Web site regarding the arrests, authorities "believe (they) have arrested the majority of those involved."

Who are they trying to kid? Neither the parents who have been through college nor most students who know how common drug use is will fall for that. Anyone who has ever worn a pledge pin knows that almost every single fraternity and sorority has members who are drug users. It seems unfair that in some cases, one member's decisions could get an organization thrown off campus. It seems additionally unfair that only a few houses were targeted when it's common knowledge that all houses have their share of problems.

Does anyone think the drug network will be set back by the removal of a couple of dealers? Anyone naive enough to think so is in no way qualified to be setting drug policy. Don't try to tell me 33 students provide all or even most of the drugs to a student body of more than 33,000 - the math just doesn't work out.

If SDSU was serious about halting the use of drugs, which is endemic to all colleges, the investigation would be escalated and sustained, not winding down. Such a goal would be worth the money spent, lives ruined and loss of this school's credibility. Unfortunately, in stereotypical SDSU fashion, the commitment appears to be no deeper than a one night stand.

Tucker Wincele is a political science and economics sophomore and a staff columnist.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to Anonymous letters will not be printed - include your full name, major and year in school.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact