Drug dealing investigation at Columbus East High School leads to multiple arrests


UPDATE (September 8, 2020): Papa Sylla pleaded guilty to dealing marijuana in addition to other pending charges.  He was sentenced to 18 months on the dealing charge plus 18 months on another case.  After time served, he will spend the remainder of the 18 months for dealing, and the remainder of the 18 months in the other case on home detention.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A Columbus man is behind bars following an investigation into drug dealing at Columbus East High School.

The Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET) arrested Papa Sylla, 24, on Thursday.

Columbus police say the bust is part of an ongoing crackdown on drug dealing in their city.

According to JNET, school resource officers received a tip about Sylla using a student to sell marijuana and THC vape cartridges at Columbus East.

Officials said a high school student reportedly recruited by Sylla to sell drugs at the school was taken into custody by school resource officers.

Around 3:15 p.m. on December 12, JNET served a search warrant at Sylla’s residence at the 3200 block of Sycamore Court in Columbus.

Police found marijuana, THC vape cartridges, psychedelic mushrooms, cocaine, as well as over $20,000 in cash.

Neighbors praised police for getting the drugs off their street.

“I think it’s a good thing they’re cracking down, as they should. That’s part of their job,” said neighbor Gregory Carr.

According to court records, Columbus police also arrested Sylla in October for allegedly selling large amounts of marijuana and THC edibles out of an apartment complex.

Those drugs were discovered after a shooting at the apartment. Sylla was out on bond following that arrest.

“It’s a very flagrant disregard of the law, being out on bond for drug offenses and using a juvenile to sell drugs in one of our high schools. It’s very disheartening,” said Columbus police Lt. Matt Harris.

In a different drug bust last week, Columbus police seized numerous guns and arrested 12 people after searching a home in the 2100 block of California street.

Investigators hope the pair of raids serve as a warning to potential drug dealers in Columbus.

“You know they’ve been kicking down a lot of doors lately to get drugs out of the community and they’re going to continue to do so,” said Harris.

Sylla was taken to the Bartholomew County Jail and faces preliminary charges including possession and dealing of cocaine and marijuana.

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