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DRUG BUST TARGETS 18 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

SHARE DRUG BUST TARGETS 18 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Police targeted 18 students at Woods Cross and Bountiful high schools and six adults for arrest on drug charges Wednesday morning.

Most of the youths were taken from their morning classes to the principal's office, arrested and driven to police headquarters. All of the teenagers were not immediately apprehended because some were not in school. Police also continued Wednesday morning to arrest the adults as they were found, according to police and school district officials."We tried to handle it in a calm, professional way" to avoid disruption of classes, Assistant District Superintendent Stephen Ron-nen-kamp said.

Seventeen of the youths attend Woods Cross High, while one attends Bountiful High.

Police planned to release the students to their parents but book the adults into the Davis County Jail. Forty-three felony charges are slated to be filed against the suspects, most of whom live in the south Davis County area. The drugs involved include marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

In addition to police contact, district officials called parents Wednesday morning to inform them of the action.

None of the targeted adults was a school administrator or faculty member.

School district officials have cooperated with the Woods Cross Police Department and the Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force for the past four months in an undercover operation, primarily at Woods Cross High, to identify people selling drugs to students.

The operation involved an undercover police officer who posed as a student. Of the school staff, only the principal and school resource officer knew of the operation.

District officials and Woods Cross Police Chief Paul Howard jointly initiated the operation, Ronnenkamp said. Howard also heads the strike force.

"We've been very, very concerned with what we see as an increase in drug activity in that area," Ronnenkamp said. "We're putting out a pretty strong message that this sort of thing won't be tolerated."

It was not immediately known whether the students were disaffected youths on the fringes of school or those involved in scholastic and extracurricular activities, but "our experience is that drug use is across the board," Ronnenkamp said.

Increased drug activity among southern Davis County youths may have contributed last Saturday to the death of a North Salt Lake teenager (not a Woods Cross student), who died of an apparent drug overdose.

"I think (the drug bust) will help" curb illegal activity in the area, North Salt Lake Police Chief Val Wilson said.

Woods Cross Mayor Jerry Larrabee said while no one likes to hear of drug trafficking in his city, "I think (the bust) is a positive thing in that we're doing something about it."

Ronnenkamp said he's unsure whether the operation will serve as a precedent for similar investigations at other Davis schools.