Undercover drug sting at Exeter HS busts 12 students

EXETER, Calif.

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Both the Exeter Police Department, as well as the Tulare County Sheriff's Office took part in the investigation.

It started in August when an officer enrolled as a student at Exeter High School. He claims, over the course of several months, he saw kids selling a variety of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and prescription pills.

The 8-month long drug investigation at Exeter High School led to an hour-long lockdown Wednesday morning. Kids were told to stay in their classrooms, as police and sheriff's officials moved in.

Mikenna McNulty said, "We were all in our class locked up. We couldn't even look outside the windows."

Twelve students between the ages of 15 and 18 who attend both Exeter and Kaweah high schools were taken into custody. They now face a number of charges, including possession and selling drugs within 1,000 feet of campus.

School officials alerted parents, by sending out an automated message shortly after the arrests were made.

Amy Cox, a parent, said, "I was surprised by the number, because of the size of the community. I didn't think there were that many kids involved in something like that."

The investigation started after some parents complained to police about drug use on campus. From there, a young-looking undercover officer started attending classes. He allegedly found drug deals were happening on campus, as well as in the classroom. Only three school administrators knew about the operation.

Diane Graziani-Orton, the interim principal said, "Our mission is to make sure that students have a safe place to learn and teachers have a safe place to teach their students and this opportunity presented itself early in the year and we decided this would be a good thing for our kids."

And while parents we spoke with are pleased with the end result, some students are concerned about the undercover investigation, saying they now don't know who to trust.

Jatina Matthews said, "We're supposed to feel safe in like our environment, and it's like hard to when they bring someone in."

Police say they could still continue to conduct more undercover operations at the school, if concerns about drugs continue.

Meanwhile, school administrators plan to hold a forum for parents sometime in the next two to three weeks regarding the issue of drugs on campus.

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