Around the Nation

Around the Nation

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

75 Students, 21 Others Arrested in Drug Sting

SAN DIEGO -- Ninety-six people were arrested, including 75 students, after a six-month undercover drug investigation centering on San Diego State University, the district attorney's office said Tuesday.

Seven fraternity houses were infiltrated by undercover agents, officials said. Agents allegedly discovered evidence of widespread drug dealing among some fraternity members.

Police said their raids had recovered 50 pounds of marijuana, 48 marijuana plants, 350 ecstasy pills and 30 vials of hashish oil, as well as cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms, methamphetamine and illicit prescription drugs.

Also seized were a shotgun, three semiautomatic pistols, brass knuckles and $60,000 in cash.

One alleged dealer is just a month away from receiving a master's degree in homeland security and had worked with the campus police as a security officer, officials said. Another student, who was arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine and two guns, is a criminal justice major, officials said.

Russian Charged With Arms-Sales Conspiracy

NEW YORK -- Prosecutors announced an indictment against a reputed Russian arms smuggler who they say tried to sell weapons to a U.S.-designated terrorist organization with the goal of killing Americans.

The indictment charges Viktor Bout with four terrorism offenses, including conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill U.S. officers or employees, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to acquire and use an antiaircraft missile.

The charges were based in part on a covertly recorded meeting in Thailand on March 6. Prosecutors say Bout said he understood that an organization of Colombia's leftist rebels wanted to use weapons against Americans in the country.

Bout was accused of saying the group's fight against the United States was also his fight because the United States was also his enemy.

Bout was arrested earlier this year in Thailand after eluding arrest for years. The United States is seeking his extradition on charges that could result in a life sentence.

U.S. Backs Off Case Against Colombian Rebel

Three years after officials hailed his arrest as a major victory in the drug war, the United States asked a judge to dismiss cocaine charges against Colombian rebel leader Ricardo Palmera.

In 2005, Palmera became the first member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to be extradited to face trial in the United States. Palmera, who is also known by his nom de guerre, Simon Trinidad, was led into federal court flanked by marshals wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles.

Convicting Palmera has proven more difficult than expected, however.

His first trial on terrorism and hostage-taking charges ended with a hung jury. A second jury convicted him of conspiracy but deadlocked on the other charges, which were ultimately dismissed. Palmera was sentenced to 60 years in prison on the hostage-taking conspiracy charge.

Two trials on the drug charges resulted in hung juries.

-- From News Services

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