Drug Bust Brings Changes to UPD

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Seven suspects still in legal process since arrests last semester

By Andrea Farah: Contributing Writer

UPD has been working harder to enforce a zero drug tolerance policy after a large-scale drug bust that resulted in the arrest of six UNF students and one employee in April 2008.

The way UPD handles individual cases varies by the severity of the offense, but one of the changes brought about by the investigation lies within the tolerance of drug possession on campus and code enforcement.

“It was found that some of the cases were ignored before,” UPD Chief Mark Foxworth said. “Now, the police must take action on every drug case and bring about Student Conduct or misdemeanor charges … we have to protect those who don’t want this kind of stuff around them.”

Student Conduct handles alcohol and drug related cases from the academic perspective. The penalties come in the form of extra written assignments, obligation to seek treatment or in serious offenses, suspension.

Detective Adam Kline, who was in charge of the drug investigation from April, said the Operation Bad Trip, as it was named by the UPD, started in early December and took four months to complete.

Nine suspects were then introduced to the police by a confidential source.

Two students – Jonas Reid and Edward Clough – remained at large for nearly a week after initial arrests.

“As we started to hit the housing, many people left town,” Kline said. However, Reid turned himself in and Clough was caught in his vehicle on campus after he returned to town.”

Currently, all arrested suspects are in different parts of the legal system since the charges varied from petty theft for Saudia Orso to possession of and selling drugs for the other eight suspects.

“Some pled guilty, some are still at litigation and some are still being tried,” Foxworth said.

It is hard to determine whether this was an isolated case or a rising problem at UNF, Foxworth said. As the university grows, crime increases.

“New students are testing their boundaries after they are let loose from their parents and live on their own for the first time,” Foxworth said.

However, what made Operation Bad Trip different from the other cases was the volume of time and resources needed to resolve it.

“Bad Trip was pretty time intensive and required help of other agencies to ensure the safety of other students, police officers [and] suspects,” Kline said.

Operation Bad Trip was the second large-scope case at UNF that required the assistance of outside agencies. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office previously assisted with the Operation School Daze that discovered multiple suspects and arrested them for similar charges.

“Drug offenses within campu are just as serious as on the outside,” sociology junior Ellie Nix said.

At the same time, she said she believes students should not be punished by suspension in minor drug related crimes.

“People make mistakes, and this will go with them until the rest of their lives,” Nix said.

Large scale drug busts increase the perception of criminal activity at school, but the truth is crime on campus is decreasing and most of the time involves only minor offenses such as petty theft, Foxworth said.

“In comparison to other schools, UNF is still a pretty safe place,” Foxworth said.

E-mail Andrea Farah at [email protected]