Alleged LSD ring busted on Drexel Univ. campus
PHILADELPHIA - January 31, 2012 (WPVI) -- Authorities in Philadelphia and Montgomery County have arrested five people in connection with an alleged million-dollar LSD ring operating on the campus of Drexel University.
They are calling it the biggest bust of its kind in 15 years.
The LSD was disguised as sheets, depicting images of Homer Simpson and former Grateful Dead Singer Jerry Garcia. The potent hallucinogenic drugs were hidden in a Sponge Bob Square Pants children's book.
But this was not child's play. This was a major, million-dollar drug ring on the Drexel University campus.
"We believe the defendants were selling LSD for over a year before our office was able to break up this ring," said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.
Investigators caught a break a couple of weeks ago, when, on January 18, Upper Moreland Police busted a man there on gun charges.
"At which point he informed Upper Moreland he could help us with information on an acid ring," said Deputy District Attorney Brian Grady.
Police soon closed in on the ring leaders: Raphael Zappala, 33, of 50th Street in Philadelphia; Joshua Dassay, 31, of Florence Street in Philadelphia; and Wesley Crawford, 34, of Haverford Road in Ardmore, Pa.
Police say the trio sold the acid mainly to Drexel University students. The D.A. says the group was selling the drug for $10 to $30 a hit. Investigators estimate the defendants were clearing $5,000 to $15,000 a week during that time period.
Around midnight Tuesday morning police set up a buy and raided a home in the 4800 hundred block of Florence Street.
They seized 950 hits of LSD with a street value of about $28,000 and $10,000 in cash and arrested the three alleged masterminds.
They say Dassay had his bags packed and was ready to flee the area.
"He is currently wanted in nine states in the United States of America," said Grady.
Two others, including one Drexel student, were also arrested, but their names have not been released because they are confidential informants cooperating with authorities.
"It's sad this was taking place on a campus of higher learning," said Williams. "I hope the actions of a few don't tarnish the image of educational excellence that we associate with Drexel University."
Late Tuesday afternoon, Drexel University released the following statement on the arrests:
"Drexel University has a zero tolerance policy for any type of illegal activity and takes immediate disciplinary action, including criminal prosecution. Drexel University Police fully cooperated with the District Attorney's Dangerous Drug Offender Unit, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Philadelphia Police, resulting in the arrests of five people connected to an LSD ring operating in University City.
"Although two Drexel students were involved, the masterminds of the operation arrested today were not affiliated in any way with Drexel and operated out of a house on 48th Street, not on the Drexel campus.
"The University complies with all state and federal regulation in the dissemination of information. When Drexel is made aware of any students participating in illegal behavior, the University places them on indefinite suspension pending the outcome of the investigation by Philadelphia and Drexel police."
The alleged masterminds could face up to 100 years behind bars if convicted.
philadelphia, pennsylvania, drugs, university city, crime
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