NEW YORK - Five Columbia University students were charged yesterday with selling LSD-spiked candy and other drugs at three fraternity houses and other residences on the Ivy League campus, with two allegedly claiming they needed the drug money to cover tuition.
Police arrested Christopher Coles, Harrison David, Adam Klein, Jose Stephen Perez and Michael Wymbs at dawn yesterday at the prestigious school in upper Manhattan.
The students - all 20 except Perez, who's 22 - were hauled into a Manhattan courtroom later in the day, shackled together and wearing Columbia or fraternity sweatshirts. They pleaded not guilty to multiple drug-dealing charges alleging that they were being supplied by violent traffickers.
The five were to remain in custody until they could make bail ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 in cash.
Authorities called it one of the largest drug takedowns on a New York City college campus in recent memory.
The arrest culminated a five-month probe - dubbed "Operation Ivy League" - that relied on a youthful undercover officer posing as a drug middleman for another college outside the city. Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said that the officer paid nearly $11,000 for 31 purchases of LSD, marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and prescription stimulants.
Authorities said that most of the arrested students' customers were other students and friends buying smaller amounts for recreational use. The liquid LSD was sold in Altoids and SweeTarts.
The investigation led authorities to three traffickers in the East Village and Brooklyn, including one charged with plotting to kidnap rival dealers for ransom. That suspect allegedly tried to recruit a second undercover officer to use a stun gun on his victims and drug them with LSD.