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UNC-CH suspends fraternities named in federal drug probe

Posted December 18, 2020 4:53 p.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2020 6:07 p.m. EST

— A day after federal investigators linked a drug trafficking ring to three fraternities on campus, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suspended recognition of the groups.

The university issued a statement saying, "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."

Twenty-one people face federal drug trafficking charges, and prosecutors said at least 11 of them are believed to be current or former students at Appalachian State University, Duke University or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"The distribution of hard drugs was pervasive in and around certain fraternities," the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. Court documents explicitly mention Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma and Beta Theta Pi at UNC. Those three fraternities were suspended on Friday.

Charles Poindexter, of Chapel Hill, a member of Phi Gamma Delta, told an informant that all 22 members of his fraternity pledge class "went in" to purchase an ounce of cocaine for spring break during his sophomore year, according to documents in the case.

One cooperating defendant said that he felt safe about the drug deals because most transactions took place at a fraternity house behind closed doors. Another defendant also stated that most drug transactions occurred around fraternity events, and that bigger events required larger amounts of narcotics.

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement that none of the charged individuals were current students.

"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.

A Beta Theta Pi spokesman issued this statement:

"The Fraternity does not tolerate the possession, sale, distribution or use of illegal substances and holds its chapters to high standards in maintaining a safe environment for all students. We are working in tandem with our undergraduates, volunteers and UNC administrators to determine next steps and will take appropriate action as new information becomes available."

Kyle Beckner, an Appalachian State student and member of the Delta Chi fraternity, told one defendant who cooperated with the investigation that his dad, who lives in Virginia, let him grow mushrooms and pot on his land and that his dad was "cool with it," the criminal complaint against him says.

Delta Chi told WRAL News that the international fraternity headquarters"is aware of the charges" which include "a now-alumni member" of the fraternity who has not been active in the organization since January.

"Currently, we are not aware of any allegations against current undergraduate members of the Appalachian State Chapter of Delta Chi but will investigate further," fraternity leadership said in a statement.

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