After a months-long investigation, Stephen F. Austin University Police Department officers have arrested 19 people on charges of possession and distribution drugs.
"The majority of people arrested were students, but not all of them," UPD Chief Marc Cossich said. "We have four other suspects who have yet to be arrested, but that number may increase as we learn more."
The investigation is one of many the department has initiated over the years into illegal activities on campus, and it's far from over, according to Cossich.
The arrests in this case began early Tuesday morning and were ongoing Wednesday afternoon.
"Mainly what we've been seeing is the distribution of different grades of marijuana, but there have been some Xanax bars and some ecstasy," Cossich said. "Twenty-two of the charges are for delivery of a controlled substance and one was just possession so far."
Some of those arrested have multiple drug-related charges, he said.
Donte Garner, a sophomore at SFA said drugs on campus are indeed a big problem, and he knows three of the people who were arrested in the investigation.
"It's dumb," he said. "Why do it at all, but especially at school? You're here for an education, and you can walk around and see people who do it all the time. It is a problem, and it messes with people, just messes them up."
Those arrested are charged with anything from misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. The charges are determined based on if the person was in a school zone, what kind of substance they were arrested in connection with, the weight of the drugs and other factors, Cossich said.
"We're not going after students or those who aren't," he said, adding that five or six of the suspects are not SFA students. "We're going after anyone who has narcotics on our campus."
This investigation doesn't necessarily show an increase in drug activity on campus, Cossich said.
"This is a sign we don't tolerate drugs on campus," Cossich said. "We constantly do investigations like this."
SFA sophomore Germissca Hendrix said she pretty much keeps to herself, and she hadn't noticed a drug problem on campus, but freshman Natasha Goushey said a couple of dorms are known for their drug issues.
"I always smell people in class who smell like pot," junior Trevor Powers added.
For freshman Steven Johnson, drug questions seem to come his way quite a bit.
"I think drugs are an issue here; it's everywhere and it's easy to get," he said. "People always ask me if I sell - I don't even do drugs - but they're always asking me about it."
This drug investigation has netted a higher number of suspects than previous investigations, said Cossich.
"The last one we did was pretty close to the same number, but this one was more - not a whole lot more," he said.
The exact number of those arrested in the last investigation, which Cossich said was a couple of years ago, was not immediately available Wednesday.
Specifics of the investigation will not be revealed until its conclusion, he said.
"Basically, information comes through our investigations division from sources outside of the department, and from there our detectives initiate investigations," he said. "Once we get more information, we put more manpower into it, and we start making arrests."
Students arrested on drug charges are subject to review through the judicial process at SFA to determine if the student has violated the university's code of conduct, Dean of Student Affairs Adam Peck said.
"As a state institution, we ensure students are given their due process rights," he said. "When we receive a report from the University Police, they are subject to our campus judicial processes, which could run anywhere from an informal hearing to a formal hearing at the student's request."
Erin McKeon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org