An ongoing investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff’s
Department into reports of drugs sales on two local high school campuses has
resulted in the arrests of 22 students.
The arrests of 20 juveniles and two adult students on narcotics-related arrest warrants took place Thursday morning at Paloma Valley High School in Menifee and Perris High School in Perris, according to the sheriff’s department.
The juveniles were processed at the Perris Sheriff’s Station and were offered counseling services and later transported to Juvenile Hall where they were booked, according to a news release from sheriff's Sgt. Vance Stolte.
The two adult students were identified as Serina Ramirez, 18, and Erick De La Cruz, 19. Both were arrested at Perris High School.
Ramirez is being held on $60,000 bail and is due to appear in court Dec. 16, while De La Cruz is being held on $35,000 bail and is also due to appear in court Dec. 16, jail records show. De La Cruz is suspected of crimes involving marijuana, while Ramirez is suspected of crimes involving other controlled substances, the jail records show.
In addition to arrest warrants served on the school campuses, another two search warrants were served -- one in Menifee, and the other in Perris. The addresses were not provided in Stolte’s report and it's not clear what was discovered at those sites.
Three other students were also being investigated as part of the operation, Stolte reported.
The operation did uncover a variety of different drugs, the sergeant said.
“During the course of this investigation, deputies seized various illegal narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, hashish, and various types of prescription pills,” Stolte’s report read.
Stolte issued a lengthy statement following today’s arrest, which outlined how the sheriff’s department’s Special Investigations Bureau went about the investigation. It reads as follows:
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) collects information regarding drug sales and usage in the community with a goal of identifying local sources of drugs. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department then contacts school district officials to obtain permission to conduct an undercover operation within the school(s) prior to the placement of undercover deputies on campus. In each instance, the involved school district has granted permission for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to conduct these programs. The school districts have no input/action on the criminal investigative operation, nor are they aware of the details or progress of the program/investigations until the program is concluded.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department conducts ongoing specific training at the academy level for its personnel relating to the identification and recognition of residents that may have learning, emotional, or cognitive disabilities or challenges with the goal to better assist and serve them. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department also conducts specific training relating to the high school undercover program for prospective undercover officers before they embark on their undercover assignments. That training includes segments relating to entrapment issues and training relating to the identification and recognition of students that may have learning, emotional, or cognitive disabilities.
Prior to arrest, each case was presented to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and thoroughly reviewed for all legal and pertinent issues. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the cases and determined each met the legal standard for criminal filing. The Riverside County District’s Attorney’s Office then prepared and presented arrest warrants for each student to a judge. After Court review, the warrants were signed and issued for every student involved in the narcotic violations.
One of the goals of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) is to maintain a drug-free living environment for the community. Because our neighborhood children are the future, our objective is to keep children productive and drug-free and provide a safe learning environment. The program is not designed to recover large amounts of drugs. The program is designed to quell hand-to-hand narcotics transactions on campus. The amounts purchased are typical of the type of transactions that normally occur in our community high school campuses, which may lead to other criminal activity.
Citizens are encouraged to report drug activity, or information that could lead to the arrest of subjects involved with any criminal activity, by submitting an anonymous tip at the Sheriff's CrimeTips online form.