Operation Sudden Fall

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Operation Sudden Fall was a 2008 joint operation between the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and San Diego State University (SDSU) campus police. It was the largest campus drug bust in San Diego County history and one of the largest college drug busts in U.S. history.[1]


The sting operation was triggered by the overdose deaths of two students at SDSU in 2007. 19-year Jenny Poliakoff died of a cocaine overdose on May 6, 2007, and another student, from Mesa College, died of oxycodone overdose on February 26, 2008.[2][3]

Results of sting[edit]

The Theta Chi fraternity house in May 2008. The fraternity was expelled from the SDSU Greek system as a result of the operation.

On May 6, 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the arrest of 96 individuals, of whom 75 were San Diego State University students, many of them interns at Adobe Systems Incorporated,[4] on a variety of drug charges in a narcotics sting.[5] Those arrested included students in the campus's Homeland Security and Criminal Justice programs. Additionally, the Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Theta, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity chapters received interim suspensions as a result of the operation.[6] Theta Chi fraternity's national underwent serious investigation of the chapter before the chapter was fully extracted from the SDSU Greek system.[7]

Two kilograms of cocaine were seized, along with 350 Ecstasy pills, 50 pounds of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, hash oil, methamphetamine, illicit prescription drugs, other drug paraphernalia, three guns, and $60,000 in cash.[8] That day, SDSU President Stephen Weber spoke at a news conference, while authorities identified 22 SDSU students as drug dealers who sold to undercover agents, and 17 others that had supplied the drugs. The rest of the suspects apparently bought or possessed illegal drugs. Authorities further found that students from seven fraternities were involved in the drug ring, which operated openly across campus.[9][10]

Some student groups, including SDSU group "Students for Sensible Drug Policy," protested the arrests, especially SDSU's decision to involve the DEA, a federal agency, in the operation.[11] In addition, they called for a more sympathetic policy toward drug use on the campus.[1] One day later, on May 7, SDSU officials stated that only 33 were students, and that the inflated number issued originally included students arrested months earlier, in some cases for simple possession.[12] On May 15, SDSU Vice President for Student Affairs James Kitchen lifted the interim suspension from the Phi Kappa Theta, Sigma Alpha Mu, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternities. The suspension was lifted after an administrative review found that those arrested in connection to the controlled substances investigation were either inactive members of the fraternity and/or were not presently residents of chapter houses.[13]


Several months after the May 6 announcement, it was reported that the majority of the defendants had pleaded guilty to the felony charges. The defendants were then either placed on probation or were required to enter drug diversion programs. Other defendants only received citations or had their cases dismissed.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson (May 10, 2008). "Crime: Inside the San Diego State University Drug Bust". Newsweek. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Littlefield, Dana; Jeff McDonald and Sherry Saavedra (2008-08-17). "SDSU drug cases ending with little fanfare". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  3. ^ Martinez, Angelica; Debbi Farr Baker, Karen Kucher and Sherry Saavedra (2008-05-06). "Sting snares 96 on SDSU campus on drug charges". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  4. ^ "Mug Shots from Operation Sudden Fall". CBS News 8. Archived from the original on 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  5. ^ "Drug bust nets 96 at San Diego State", CNN.com, May 6, 2008
  6. ^ "Six SDSU Fraternities Placed On Suspension as a Result of Drug-Related Arrests". SDSU. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  7. ^ "Frats suspended in San Diego drug probe". USA Today. 2008-05-07. 
  8. ^ origin.mercurynews.com, Six fraternities suspended in drug probe at San Diego State
  9. ^ signonsandiego.com, 5 are students; DEA took part in yearlong operation
  10. ^ www.fox6.com/news, Family of Dead SDSU Student Reacts to Campus Drug Bust
  11. ^ "SDSU drug sting draws scorn, praise". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  12. ^ "Officials differ on number of SDSU students snared in sting". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  13. ^ "SDSU Lifts Interim Suspension on Three Fraternities". San Diego State University. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 

External links[edit]