UPDATE 12/18/2020 at 5:04 p.m.: Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced Friday that the University is suspending its recognition of the three fraternities named in a federal drug trafficking investigation: Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma and Beta Theta Pi.
"We are taking swift action today because the serious nature of the alleged criminal behaviors is contradictory to our code of conduct and endangers the health of our student body and community," the chancellor said in a statement. "We remain vigilant and are continuing to work with law enforcement to understand the extent of this activity on our campus and will take all appropriate measures to address it.”
According to reporting from the News & Observer, UNC's chapter of Phi Gamma Delta has also been suspended by its national organization.
Twenty-one people face federal charges following a drug trafficking investigation into the sale of narcotics near North Carolina college campuses, including current and former students at UNC, Appalachian State University and Duke University.
Court documents allege illegal drug activity involving the UNC fraternities Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma and Beta Theta Pi between 2017 and the spring of 2020, according to a press release from United States Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin, Middle District of North Carolina.
The drug ring distributed over a thousand pounds of marijuana, several hundred kilograms of cocaine and "significant quantities of other drugs," totaling over $1.5 million worth of drug proceeds.
The investigation began in November 2018, when officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration's Raleigh district office began an investigation into the distribution of cocaine, hydrochloride and other illegal drugs on UNC's campus and the Chapel Hill area.
Other defendants charged as result of the investigation lived in college towns, including Charlotte and Wilmington, according to the press release.
“This investigation reveals that the fraternity culture at these universities is dangerous," Martin said. "University administrators and national chapters cannot turn a blind eye to the impact on these students and the environment on their respective college campuses. The drug culture feeds many other problems on campus and in our society.
"University administrators must take a stand and put a stop to it."
Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said that the amount of illegal narcotics distributed in this case reflect a public health crisis.
"We worked this case in an effort to save lives," Blackwood said. "We also wanted to protect the honor and integrity of the University of North Carolina and other institutions of higher learning.
"This investigation and the prosecution of those involved in the drug trade on university campuses should send a clear message that such activities will not be tolerated."
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement that none of the individuals charged are students currently enrolled at UNC.
“We are extremely disappointed to learn of these alleged actions on our campus. The University is committed to working with law enforcement to fully understand the involvement of any university individuals or organizations so that disciplinary action can be taken," Guskiewicz said in a statement.
Guskiewicz said the University will continue to work with law enforcement to identify and address illegal drug use on campus.
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