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Undercover Investigation at Santana High Nets 33 Drug Arrests

Times Staff Writer

Sheriff’s deputies made 33 arrests Thursday morning as the result of a five-month undercover drug investigation at Santana High School here. All but one of those arrested were students or recent students.

Those arrested had been identified by an undercover woman deputy who had been enrolled at the school as a student.

Deputies are still looking for nine other suspects, one of them an adult, Lt. John Tenwolde said.

Those arrested are suspected of selling drugs both on the campus and in the nearby neighborhood, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said.

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All but four of the suspects are juveniles. The four are 18-year-olds from Santee and will be tried as adults, Tenwolde said. They were taken to the County Jail downtown.

They are:

- Mike Dubose, charged with two counts of selling marijuana and being held in lieu of $6,000 bail.

- Jeremy Dumont, charged with two counts of selling marijuana and being held in lieu of $6,000 bail.

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- Daryl Nelson, charged with two counts of selling narcotics and being held on $6,000 bail.

- Richard Lane Phillips, charged with one count of transporting marijuana, was released on $3,000 bail Thursday evening.

Most of the juveniles were sent home with their parents, said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bob Scanlon. Punishment for the juveniles may range from unsupervised probation to a stint with the California Youth Authority, Scanlon said. Most of the arrests took place on campus.

Earlier in the week, as part of the same investigation, deputies arrested two adults and a juvenile in their homes, Sgt. Kurt Fettu said. The adults were Ronald Dean Kephart, 26, of Santee, and Linda Benning, 33, who lived with the juvenile, who was not identified, in Lakeside.

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Kephart was arrested Monday and charged with one count of possession of marijuana for sale and one count of possession of drugs. He was released on $2,000 bail.

Benning was arrested Wednesday on one count of possession of a controlled substance and released on her own recognizance. The juvenile was charged with marijuana cultivation and possession of methamphetamine (also known as crystal speed), Fettu said.

Small amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana were confiscated at both houses, Tenwolde said.

The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation of drug trafficking in and around high schools within the county, Fettu said.

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On Tuesday, 35 people, including a mathematics teacher and 22 students, were arrested as a result of a similar undercover operation at Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley, also part of the Grossmont Union High School District.

Since then the number of people arrested as part of the Mount Miguel operation has risen to 38, bringing the total number of arrests from the Grossmont School District investigation to 74, Scanlon said.

And the “number will probably grow,” Tenwolde said.

The undercover operation at Mount Miguel High School was the sheriff’s first at a school and was the first within the county outside the San Diego Unified School District.

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The undercover investigation at Santana began because of complaints from merchants, parents and neighborhood residents in the school area, Fettu said.

A female deputy enrolled as a student at Santana High School in September, Fettu said. The undercover deputy purchased drugs 64 times.

Forty transactions took place on the school grounds and 24 took place within a five-block radius, Fettu said.

The amounts sold ranged from single marijuana cigarettes to small amounts of other drugs.

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