Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
Critics of the six-month drug investigation at TCU say it went too far, while others say it was long overdue.
The attorney for two of those accused of dealing drugs at and around Texas Christian University says the early-morning drug sting went too far.
"It's destroying the lives of 17 people," defense attorney Jim Shaw said.
He met Thursday with Eduardo Hernandez, a 20-year-old former TCU student who is accused of delivering marijuana four times in November and December.
Shaw also represents another of what he calls the "TCU 17" -- Taylor Davis Cowdin, also 20. Cowdin, a TCU student, is accused of delivering marijuana to an undercover officer on Feb. 1.
"These are serious charges," Shaw said. "They could involve the possibility of going to prison, but the way it's been handled from this point is beyond the realm of acceptability."
Some of the deals allegedly occurred on TCU's campus, a drug-free zone, which can lead to tougher sentences.
But Shaw said the investigation and the on-campus, pre-dawn raid went too far.
"A phone call to these 17 people would've gotten them to turn themselves in," he said.
Shaw said police should have moved in immediately instead of launching a six-month investigation.
"Six months ago, bust the guy you know did something and let the deterrent effect start right there," he said.
Shaw said he would fight to keep the "children" he represents out of prison but worries about the damage already done.
"We'll talk about what their future is now that they've been labeled a criminal, a member of the TCU 17 and see if we can right their ship," he said.
The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office decides what charges the accused will face. A spokeswoman said part of that decision will rely on the results of lab tests done on evidence from the police investigation.
Fort Worth police said they are questioning the suspects for more information. Investigators said they expect to make more arrests, likely more TCU students.
Police said the investigation would continue for many more months.
NBC 5's Deborah Ferguson contributed to this report.