Deputies arrested 12 students from Elsinore High School in Wildomar and the other 12 from Vista del Lago High School in Moreno Valley.
The students, whose ages range from 15 to 19, are being charged with selling a controlled substance.
Students at the two Riverside County high schools are not talking about their Christmas break plans. Instead they are talking about their classmates who were pulled from the classroom and arrested Thursday morning.
"Three huge dudes in sheriff jackets came in and just tapped the kid on the shoulder and he walked out crying and they searched him," said student Adriana Hernandez. "It was pretty scary."
The arrests came just as students were settling in to the school day at Vista del Lago High School and Elsinore High School.
Investigators with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Special Investigations Bureau identified 23 students and a former student who, they say, sold drugs to their classmates.
During the bust, deputies seized marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy and the prescription drug hydrocodone.
"We received numerous complaints from the public and from school officials and that kind of started an investigation," said Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Borja.
According to the arrest warrant, undercover deputies posed as school-age teens to gain information about drugs being distributed on the campuses.
In one example, a student sold marijuana to an undercover deputy in the school parking lot.
Parent Nicole Hernandez says her own daughter expressed concern over the growing problem of drugs on campus.
"Kids walking around during passing period, in bathrooms and it just being so visible," said Hernandez. "It seems to me like it was transparent to even the faculty, everybody knew about it."
District officials and law enforcement hope the raid will turn students away from using drugs.
"It also sends a message to the other students at the school that, hey, you shouldn't be participating doing this type of activity," said Borja. "If you do, you'll be arrested for it."
A former student who was arrested off campus is scheduled to be arraigned in open court Monday.
The others, being juveniles, will attend closed hearings.