CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – UNC-Chapel Hill has suspended three fraternities in the wake of a federal drug investigation that resulted in several arrests.
UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said the campus chapters of Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma and Beta Theta Pi have been suspended due to their alleged activity named in the DEA’s investigation.
The multiple-year operation focused on Appalachian State University, Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill.
It involved more than $1.5 million worth of drugs, ranging from marijuana to cocaine to pills.
Officials said the majority of people involved were at UNC and a part of fraternities.
“We are taking swift action today because the serious nature of the alleged criminal behaviors is contradictory to our code of conduct and endangers the health of our student body and community,” Guskiewicz said. “We remain vigilant and are continuing to work with law enforcement to understand the extent of this activity on our campus and will take all appropriate measures to address it.”
The investigation dates back to 2017. It started with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office learning of possible drug trafficking in the area. They said they then identified three fraternities buying and selling.
“It unfolded unlike any case I’ve seen in my 40 years of law enforcement,” said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood. “Brazen attitudes, casual use of just high volumes of drugs, then the network started to unfold about the money.”
Officials said over the years, the drug ring funneled more than a thousand pounds of marijuana, several hundred kilograms of cocaine, and more.
The sheriff said fraternity members would also be hazed with narcotics.
“That’s what motivated us to move forward quickly with this case because it was a matter of people being placed in jeopardy,” said Blackwood.
Twenty-one people now face federal charges. Many of them are either current or former students at the universities.
Authorities said they also arrested a supplier in California, who would ship or drive drugs over.
“We were all quite shocked at how brazen these young men were and women were in moving these narcotics,” said Blackwood.
The sheriff said he wants to protect the integrity of these universities, while also sending a message.
“The goal is for the college campuses to be impacted in a positive way,” said Blackwood.
More arrests are expected as the investigation continues.