Just How Easy Is It to Score Drugs on Instagram?
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Just How Easy Is It to Score Drugs on Instagram?


This post was originally published on June 2, 2014.

Just how easy is it for kids to score weed, pills, and other illicit substances by scoping on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Um, turns out it’s disturbingly easy. So easy it’s kind of sickening. And so easy it’s actually pretty embarrassing for cops and other law enforcement types who seem to not notice these kinds of sales happening flagrantly, openly, right under their noses.

A Social Media Sting

We know all this because of an experiment conducted by a team of savvy sorts at DrugAbuse.com, who—after noticing obvious drug activity on Instagram and other social media channels—went undercover to see how fast and accessible it would be to obtain drugs on Insta with no existing hookups. Somewhat terrifyingly, they found 50 Instagram dealer accounts in the scope of a single day! They did this solely by searching for different druggie-themed hashtags like #weed4sale. Check out the full study here.

This news is alarming for multiple reasons, one of them, of course, being that tons of kids, teens and young adults use Instagram and all its social media brethren. Just the simple fact that kids everywhere could have such upfront, quick and easy access is downright freaky.

Ridiculously Easy to Spot

But, as the DrugAbuse.com folks explain, “The word ‘obvious’ is an understatement for how these dealers operate.” They bear Captain Apparent usernames like “ihavedrugs4sale,” and their posts/photos are chock full of drug references and pics. The most popular items they shill are weed, prescription painkillers, Xanax, molly (MDMA) and lean (codeine syrup mixture). The “ads” for said products could be a bright, colorful photo of a nice little weed bundle, or it could be a simple iPhone notepad-message like this one: “I’m taking small orders today minimum of 30, 1MG Xanaz for $30, plus shipping of your choice…I will also choose one person to receive a free sample. Email now!” GAH is all we have to say.

To see how the whole thing works, the undercover peeps downloaded a messaging service called Kik, which is what most of the online dealers use to avoid being caught (it doesn’t reveal any names or numbers). They’d then send a message expressing a vague interest in a “hookup,” and the dealer would generally respond quickly to explain their offerings and the pricing. It seemed quite simple and disturbingly easy.

Shady Photo Sharing

If the whole thing reeks of sketch, that’s because it is sketch, for both the dealers and the buyers. The folks ordering the drugs are potentially easier to nab than the dealers, though a simple Google search for ‘Instagram drug bust’ will result in an ample display of dealers who got caught.

For its part, Instagram recently blocked some of the obvious drug-related hashtags, but new ones popped up right away. And here some think that the worst thing about Instagram is that there are some annoying people on it!

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.