YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

2 Others Sought in Undercover Probe : 15 Arrested in Hoover High Drug Raid

February 10, 1988|CURTIS L. TAYLOR | Times Staff Writer

Narcotics officers swept through the campus of San Diego's Hoover High School Tuesday armed with search warrants to arrest 17 current and former students for allegedly selling narcotics to an undercover police officer.

Police said 15 arrests were made in the culmination of a three-month investigation at the school at 4474 El Cajon Blvd.

Of the 17 students sought, 10 are currently enrolled at Hoover and one will be tried as an adult because he is 18 years old, police said.

Seven students were escorted by school staff members from their first-period classes, which began at 7:30 a.m., to a bungalow at the east end of campus, where officers were waiting.

Eight students were arrested at home and at other schools to which they had transferred, including Sweetwater High School, said Lt. Skip DiCerchio of the San Diego Police Department.

Two are still being sought--one is expected to be taken into custody today and the other is living in Arizona.

All of the 17 will be charged with narcotics sales, DiCerchio said.

He said the students's reactions to their arrests were mixed.

"Some of the students cried. Some of the students didn't want to go home with their parents, and some of the parents didn't want them to go home," DiCerchio said.

Tuesday's raid was the second undercover drug investigation at Hoover High. In January, 1984, 53 people were arrested after a similar operation in which a police officer posed as a student, DiCerchio said.

"The operation is making an impact," he said. "We are seeing a lot less drugs being sold on the Hoover campus than when we first started."

The arrests culminated an undercover operation that began in September, when a male police officer registered as a student at the school.

The officer made 28 buys of narcotics--25 of marijuana, one of cocaine and one of the hallucinogenic drug PCP. What was purchased in the remaining transaction was not disclosed by police Tuesday.

DiCerchio said that once the roundup is complete, 12 students will be returned to the custody of their parents and four will be turned over to juvenile authorities at the request of the probation department.

He said one was booked into County Jail downtown. Scott Swearingin, the 18-year-old student, was being held on suspicion of selling narcotics, DiCerchio said.

Hoover High Principal Doris Alvarez, who said she learned about the undercover operation Monday, said students were happy that police were trying to keep the campus clean of drugs.

"The students all agreed that they don't want to see drugs on the campus," she said. "But they also feel bad because they have worked so hard in recent months to promote a better image of the school."

Alvarez said Hoover recently began its own anti-drug program.

"We began a drug education program on campus two weeks ago," she said. "We want to get the community involved and bring agencies to talk with students about the dangers of drugs. We are also educating the staff on the symptoms of drug use so they can be on the lookout."

The arrests Tuesday were the 12th time undercover narcotics agents have infiltrated local schools since 1984; a total of 250 students have been arrested, authorities said.

Los Angeles Times Articles