Newsbrief: Cops Laud "Big Bust" at University of Virginia 10/17/03

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On October 2, police in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, unveiled their 15-month "Operation Spring Break Down" by dramatically arresting 15 people -- eight of them UVA students -- and announcing that indictments for 18 others were pending. Two of the 18 had also been arrested by press time.

The operation, conducted jointly by University Police and local and federal law enforcement officials operating as the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (JADE) task force, featured a media-friendly "sting" where police posing as fraternity members invited potential arrestees to join a secret fraternity, Zeta Tau. When the five who responded to the invitation showed up at the designated location, they were escorted into a van and driven to city hall, where they were arrested. Zeta Tau really stood for "zero tolerance," joked one cop comedian.

The lawmen also touted their bust with an October 3 press conference, but on close examination there seems to be less to it than meets the eye. The cops proudly announced they had seized drugs with an estimated street value of $20,000, but that is a pretty paltry sum for a multi-month, multi-agency law enforcement effort. And while the UVA Daily Cavalier, picking up on police lingo, referred repeatedly to "narcotics," 14 of the 15 arrested in the first round were accused of marijuana sales. Authorities also admitted that while some suspects knew each other, there was no "major drug ring" involved.

Now a group of predominantly pot-dealing undergrads face prison time and expulsion from the university. The Drug War Chronicle will take a longer look at this story next week.

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Issue #307, 10/17/03 Supreme Court Upholds Doctors' Right to Recommend Medical Marijuana | Outgoing California Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Guidelines Bill, But Movement Grumbles Over Plant Limits, Caregiver Provisions, More | Bolivia on the Brink: Strikes, Blockades, Mass Marches, Dozens Killed as US-Backed Administration Teeters | DRCNet Interview: Retired New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome Marks | Newsbrief: California's Proposition 36 Generating Big Increases in Drug Treatment | Newsbrief: Cops Laud "Big Bust" at University of Virginia | Newsbrief: Venezuela Vice-Pres Lashes Out at US Drug Czar, CIA | Newsbrief: Bill to Legalize Coca Prepared in Colombia | Newsbrief: Prosecution of Southwest Virginia Pain Doc Stumbles | Newsbrief: Lame Duck Governor Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Damages Sought in Mississippi Raid that Destroyed Innocent Plants | Media Scan: Zurita on Bolivia/Coca, Barthwell & Kampia, Boston Phoenix on ONDCP Summit, Clarence Page, Prevention Postcards | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | SSDP ED Search Accepting Applications | The Reformer's Calendar

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