Undercover cop talks about Exeter HS drug bust

Thursday, March 22, 2012
21 Jump Street like drug bust at Exeter High School

Alex Salinas has been an Exeter Police officer for eight months but until recently, he had only worn his police uniform one time and only worked at the police department one day. "Besides the day that I got sworn in that was the last time that I had set foot in here until we did our operation."

                  |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

The 22-year-old with braces graduated from the police academy in July. After completing narcotics training, the new officer enrolled in Exeter High School a few weeks into the school year posing as student -- senior, Johnny Ramirez.

His assignment: befriend student narcotics suppliers to stop what some thought was a growing drug problem on campus. Salinas says the first day, he almost gave his real name to students. "I was pretty nervous the whole time I was thinking they're going to find out, they're going to think I look too old or just so many things running through my head and then you know a few days. Started talking to people and making friends and it just kind of became normal."

Though he was Johnny in school, there were a few times out in public, like at the mall or walking around town, that Alex would run into students. He said he had his guard up at all times. "A few times students- hey oh I saw you here and I'm like oh yeah I didn't see you and I'm wondering why I didn't see them."

Salinas says getting drugs while at school was fairly easy. All you had to do was ask the right people. "It's everywhere but I feel what we did had a good impact on the whole operation there and hopefully it sent out a message to other students in other schools that it's not going to be tolerated."

Salinas says drug dealings took place on campus and even in class when teachers weren't looking. After school he'd return not to the Exeter Police Department -- but to the county's narcotics office, where he'd file reports and book evidence on drug transactions.

When he heard the undercover investigation was coming to an end, he was anxious about the outcome. On Wednesday, March 14th, instead of coming to school in student clothes, Alex arrived in his Exeter Police uniform to help his department arrest 12 students for selling marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs.

Salinas is excited to officially start patrol duties on Friday

Tonight on Action News Live at Eleven, we'll have more on Officer Salinas' undercover operation, including his student Facebook page and how the former "C" student did better in school the second time around.

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drug bust, crimetracker, exeter, tulare, visalia, farmersville, tulare county, local, jessica peres
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