Two dozen midshipmen at the Naval Academy are implicated in using or selling marijuana and LSD in the school's worst drug scandal in more than 20 years.
Five midshipmen, including two arrested last month at a Glen Burnie hotel, are suspected of felony drug distribution and 19 are thought to have possessed enough for personal use, a spokesman said.
The five midshipmen will have their cases reviewed in the next few weeks, when Navy lawyers evaluate evidence and recommend whether a court-martial should be convened. A guilty verdict would mean automatic discharge from the Navy and a punishment of fines or imprisonment.
Adm. Charles R. Larson, academy superintendent, will determine which cases go to a court-martial hearing. He would not comment yesterday.
The cases against the 19 midshipmen suspected of possessing drugs for personal use will be reviewed in about two weeks, when Capt. Randy Bogle, the commandant of midshipmen, conducts hearings.
Captain Bogle will either recommend punishment for conduct code violations or dismiss the charges. Admiral Larson will review those recommendations and make the final decision.
"We are obviously disappointed that this situation could occur here," said Capt. Tom Jurkowsky, an academy spokesman. "But as soon as we suspected drug use, we took swift action. Our zero-drug use policy is well established and this type of behavior will simply not be tolerated."
All 4,000 midshipmen were tested within 48 hours of the hotel arrests in Glen Burnie. All of those drug tests came back negative, Captain Jurkowsky said.
He would not release the names of the midshipmen, but a Navy source said most of those involved are with the 13th Company, which has 111 midshipmen from all four classes. The Brigade of Midshipmen has 36 companies.
Captain Jurkowsky said those involved were still attending classes. He would not say if the midshipmen used drugs on academy grounds or elsewhere.
Some of the midshipmen ques-tioned by investigators admitted their involvement with illegal drug use, he said. A source involved in the investigation said that the implicated midshipmen are naming classmates who are involved in the case.
The investigation is the largest since the late 1960s and early 1970s when marijuana use among the brigade reportedly was wide-spread.
Between 1967 and 1972, 50 midshipmen were expelled for smoking marijuana, The Sun reported. Some were caught in Bancroft Hall, the dormitory where they lived. In 1975, police raided an Annapolis home and found 19 midshipmen at the residence. Navy investigators charged 10 of the 19 with smoking marijuana. Seven resigned and three were cleared during hearings.
Instances of drug use at the academy have been rare during the past two years. One midshipman was expelled last year after testing positive for drug use, and a plebe who tested positive on Induction Day June 30 was expelled. Last week, a hearing board recommended that a lieutenant who tested positive for cocaine during a random sampling earlier this year be discharged.
Drug prevention officials say use of LSD has increased sharply in recent years. More than 13 percent of 12th grade students statewide had used the drug, according to a 1994 survey by the Maryland Department of Education.
The narcotics probe comes less than two years after the resolution of the school's biggest cheating scandal. It began early last month when Navy investigators were tipped off to midshipmen involved in illegal drug use.
On Oct. 15, Navy investigators posed as drug dealers at the Holiday Inn in Glen Burnie and sold LSD to two midshipmen they later arrested, Navy sources said. A "concerned" midshipman told investigators about the hotel during the week before the arrests.