January 28, 2005
Thirteen students were charged with dealing drugs in five Palm Beach County high schools as part of a dragnet that involved young-looking undercover officers who gathered information in school hallways, classrooms and bathrooms.
Six adult students and seven juveniles were arrested Thursday on 33 felony drug warrants that included charges of possession or conspiracy to sell cocaine, marijuana, LSD and ecstasy, Xanax and painkillers, the county's sheriff's office said.
The fresh-faced officers, all in their 20s, assumed the life of high school students during the investigation, dubbed "Operation: Old Schoolhouse," sheriff's Lt. Marcos Martinez said.
The four sheriff's deputies and one Delray Beach officer completed homework assignments, wrote reports and even studied for the FCAT in order to maintain the ruse. They went to football games and even a high school party to gather the trust of schoolmates, Martinez said.
School principals - not teachers - were the only ones aware of the undercover officers' presence.
Adult students immediately were taken to jail. Juveniles waited in deans' offices while their parents were called. They were then taken to juvenile holding facilities.
Officials said similar investigations were in the works.
School District of Palm Beach County Police Department
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office
THE SCHOOL BOARD OF PALM BEACH COUNTY