Six UC Santa Cruz fraternity and sorority members arrested in alleged Ecstasy ring

Six UC Santa Cruz fraternity and sorority members have been arrested in connection with an international drug ring investigation, police said.

Cecilia Le, Hoai Nguyen, Nathan Tieu, Cesar Casil, Benny Liu and Mariah Dremel, all 21, were taken into custody on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance for sale after authorities discovered they were allegedly operating an Ecstasy ring, according to the Santa Cruz Police Department.

“The proliferation of drugs like MDMA is a serious concern for the Santa Cruz area,” police spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said in a statement. “The drug alters perception and awareness, as well as increasing emotions of trust and lowering inhibitions oftentimes resulting in sexual exploitation. This dangerous combination undermines the efforts of affirmative consent work undertaken by many college campuses.”

Working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Department of Homeland Security, police discovered the students received several overseas packages of MDMA, also known as Molly, officials said. MDMA is a club drug known to alter mood and perception, causing increased pleasure, energy and hallucinations.

The packages were addressed to three homes in Santa Cruz.

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Investigators found that packages had been shipped to students who were members of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity and the Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority, police said.

Investigators seized more than $100,000 in MDMA shipments on March 4 from the three homes, police said. During searches at the homes, investigators recovered about 5,000 tablets, or 4.1 pounds, of MDMA tablets, police said.

Homeland Security agents on Friday intercepted another large MDMA shipment sent to the same group, Santa Cruz police said.

UC Santa Cruz Provost Alison Galloway called the arrests "deeply troubling."

Several students held leadership roles in the fraternity and sorority, she said. The students were placed on interim suspension pending the outcome of campus judicial proceedings.

"We hold our students to a high standard and care about the well-being of every member of our campus community," Galloway said.

All activities and functions have been suspended for Alpha Kappa Delta Phi's UC Santa Cruz chapter, the organization said in a statement. The sorority said it has a "zero-tolerance policy" for drugs.

Leaders with the Alpha Kappa Delta Phi International Sorority Inc. are cooperating with police.

"This incident does not reflect the values the international sorority espouses for its members," the organization said. "The mission of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi is to maintain the highest levels of integrity and innovation for their members and is fully committed to helping them live positive, healthy and responsible lives."

In a similar statement released Tuesday, Lambda Phi Epsilon said it has also suspended all activities and operations at the UC Santa Cruz chapter.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:38 p.m.: This story was updated with comments from UC Santa Cruz Provost Alison Galloway.

This story was originally published at 1:50 p.m.

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