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Victoria Police Department goes undercover at West High School, finds drugs

By KBell
Feb. 22, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2011 at 8:22 p.m.


RESULTS OF INVESTIGATIONEight narcotics purchases from two juveniles during school hours

A variety of drugs purchased, including hydrocodone, ecstasy and Xanax

An off-campus purchase of 56 crushed hydrocodone pills in capsules, resulting in the arrest of 17-year-old Ernest Cano

A related investigation resulting in purchase of a pound of marijuana from two adults and a juvenile

About 10 criminal cases filed with the district attorney's office

Source: News release from Victoria Police Department

A three-month, undercover operation in which a Victoria Police Department officer enrolled as a student at Victoria West High School yielded a small amount of drugs and resulted in at least one arrest.

Undercover officers bought narcotics - including hydrocodone, ecstasy and Xanax - four times from each of two juveniles during school hours, according to a news release Tuesday from the police department.

Those purchases led to several off-campus narcotics buys and a related investigation that resulted in one pound of marijuana that was bought from two adults and a juvenile, the release said.

"We took a couple people out of business, and we will continue to do these types of operations in the future," Police Chief Bruce Ure said.

Ernest Cano, 17, was arrested on suspicion of felony manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance on Feb. 8 after selling an undercover officer 56 "whites," which are crushed hydrocodone in capsules, according to the release. That sale was off campus.

Cano was still in the Victoria County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bail Tuesday.

Only a few school district officials, including Superintendent Bob Moore and Principal Debbie Crick, were informed about the operation, according to the news release.

"We strive to cooperate with the police department, and we have long made it known that our priority as a school district is the safety of every child in our school," said the district's communications specialist, Diane Boyett. "Drugs are in direct conflict with that, and so anything that gets drugs out of our schools and sends that very strong message is a very welcomed thing."

Ure said that although relatively few drugs were found, the operation, which is the first of its kind executed by the department, was a success.

"These are very complex operations, and they're time- intensive and money-intensive. But we believe they're well worth it," Ure said.

Boyett said the results of the investigation prove the district's years of efforts to reduce student drug use are successful.

"We were disturbed that there was any incidence of (drugs) to begin with, but it's gratifying that it's not as widespread as some would have feared," she said.

Ure said there were "underlying factors" that led the department to choose the West campus for the investigation, but there was no indication of a major drug problem there.

"We just decided to target that particular campus," he said.

Ure said Moore and District Attorney Steve Tyler were supportive in the police department's efforts, and the department has filed with Tyler's office at least 10 criminal cases related to the investigation.

The department is still working closely with the district attorney to make more arrests and file appropriate charges.

"We clearly are committed to these types of operations," Ure said. "The message is clear: Be careful of who you sell to because it might be an undercover officer in school."

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