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Undercover High School Operation Still Generating Arrests

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In a call back to the old 21 Jump Street drama, police were placed undercover in a high school in Palm Beach. The cops not only impersonated students, they went so far as to attend classes, take college prep exams, and in at least one case, develop romantic relationships. Teachers weren’t informed and were apparently fooled as much as classmates. The purpose of the operation? To investigate drug sales (primarily marijuana and prescription drugs) in the high school. Thirty students ended up getting arrested.

The first round of the operation (called, “Operation D Minus”) ran through the 2010 – 2011 school year. This year, the arrests continued as information from the first investigation has led to other drug crimes in other schools.

One case has been featured on National Public Radio. The student interviewed told a tale of falling in love with an undercover officer who asked him to get marijuana for her. The radio broadcast ran, appropriately enough, on Valentine’s Day. Although the officer in question wasn’t interviewed, a statement from police said the young man misunderstood when he asked her to the prom and that requests for drugs were perfectly legal. In other words, it didn’t amount to entrapment by way of the heart.

The arrests aren’t just slap on the wrist misdemeanors, and parents were upset when charges were brought. In many cases, the students arrested were over 18, making them adults accused of felonies. What’s worse for the high school students is that the crimes took place at their school – engaging the “drug-free school zone” provisions and adding to the possible penalties. The young man mentioned above pleaded guilty and received probation. He does, however, have a criminal record to go with his broken heart.

More about “Operation D minus” can be found here.


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