Roughly eight months ago, Exeter Police planted a recent graduate from the police academy in a high school. The undercover cop spent days studying with students, taking tests and making friends. Wednesday police officers descended upon the high school and arrested a number of students for alleged California drug crimes.

A person known as the student “Johnny Ramirez” was on hand as law enforcement served arrest warrants at the school related to the undercover investigation. The student who classmates knew as Johnny Ramirez apparently learned for the first time that their classmate was in reality a 22-year-old man who worked for the Exeter Police. Exeter is a community of roughly 10,000 located north of the Los Angeles area near Visalia.

Roughly twelve students were arrested for alleged drug sales within 1,000 feet of a school, unlawful possession of controlled substances, conspiracy and accessory charges.

The actual arrests began at the home of one student at his home. Police went to an 18-year-old student’s home around 7:00 a.m. and served the first arrest warrant on the person police claim is the so-called ring leader. The young man’s mother and stepfather were reportedly also taken into custody for questioning.

Officials arrived at the school sometime during the mid-morning hours and locked the school down for 90 minutes, beginning at 11:00 a.m. During the lockdown police took students into custody ranging in age from 17 to 19-years-old.

One 17-year-old senior at the school, who apparently was not the subject of the police raid, told the Visalia Times-Delta that the lockdown was frightening. He says that, he “sat next to Johnny Ramirez in three classes. We really got to know each other. I can’t believe it.”

Police claim the adult who posed as a student in the school made purchases of marijuana, cocaine, prescription medications and other substances during his eight months posing as a high school student.

The apparent sting operation was planned for some time. Law enforcement claims that they received complaints about potential drugs on the high school campus during the last school year. This year’s eight month high school undercover sting operation was the result of last year’s complaints, according to Exeter Police.

Source: Visalia Times-Delta, “12 students arrested in undercover drug bust at Exeter Union High School,” Eric Woomer and Luis Hernandez, Mar. 14, 2012