Move over Nino Brown, there’s a new crew on the block. Yesterday, a team of New York City law enforcement officials arrested five Columbia University students for selling LSD, marijuana, and cocaine at three fraternity houses and other residences on the campus.
According to reports, NYPD officers arrested Christopher Coles, Harrison David, Adam Klein, Jose Stephen Perez, and Michael Wymbs early Tuesday morning at the prestigious school in upper Manhattan.
New York City officials called this bust one of the biggest “takedowns on a New York City college campus in recent memory.”
School officials reiterated in a letter to students that the allegations go “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. . . . Please rest assured we are taking this matter very seriously.”
The Columbia students’ arrest was a result of a five-month sting operation that included “youthful” undercover officers posing as dealers at another university. Over the course of their investigation, the undercover officers paid $11,000 for 31 purchases of LSD, marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, and prescription stimulants.
This bust extends far beyond the upper Manhattan campus. According to The Associated Press, “The investigation led authorities to three traffickers in the East Village and Brooklyn, including one charged with plotting to kidnap rival dealers for ransom. The suspect allegedly tried to recruit a second undercover officer to use a stun gun on his victims and drug them with LSD.”
Police say that these students, who claim they were selling drugs to turn a quick profit and pay for tuition, were playing with fire. However, their defense lawyers tried to paint a different picture of hard-working students who’ve overcome difficult circumstances to excel at the prestigious university.
Last year, Stephen Perez, who also goes by the alias Stephan Vincenzo, was featured in Columbia’s monthly magazine, Blue and White. In the article, he reminisced about childhood friends in Atlanta who “got involved heavily with drugs, a lot of my friends dropped out of school, ended up in jail, ended up in gangs.” I guess they had more in common than they previously thought.
The five defendants are being held on bail ranging from $20,000 to $50,000.