El Segundo : Drug Arrests at School

Three El Segundo High School students and two adults were arrested on suspicion of peddling drugs after a three-month undercover operation in which a narcotics officer posed as a student, El Segundo police said.

Acting Police Chief Tim Grimmond said the undercover officer, a new recruit unknown in the community, bought marijuana from the suspects on the campus, as well as at several off-campus locations. He said the arrests were made over the holiday period and did not involve any district employees.

The names of the three male students--two seniors and one junior--were not released because of their juvenile status, and the identities of the two adults were withheld pending the completion of the police investigation. Grimmond said his officers expect to make several more arrests.

Supt. Richard Bertain said the three students were called in when they returned to the campus on Monday and were suspended for five days. Counselors are evaluating the past behavior of the students and the circumstances of their alleged involvement in drug peddling to determine whether they will be expelled, Bertain said.

Bertain said the narcotics operation at the school was patterned after a 1982 undercover effort in the South Bay Union High School District in which officers posed as students to gather evidence of campus drug sales. Fifty students were arrested.

Since then, Bertain said, there have been complaints of extensive drug activity on the El Segundo campus, but periodic administrative checks failed to substantiate the reports.

Bertain said he was relieved that the police investigation begun last September did not uncover widespread campus narcotics activity or the use of harder drugs by students.

The police operation should serve as a notice that the district will not tolerate any level of narcotics sales and use, Bertain said. He said drug education is provided at all grade levels in the three-campus unified school district.

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