Illegal drugs including cocaine and heroin are being offered on social media platforms in the UK and Wales, according to a recent report by WalesOnline.
More than one hundred links to pages reportedly offering prescription pills and other illegal drugs were encountered during a search in the Wales’ section of Craigslist.
Albeit the authenticity of most of the pages, and even links, could not be verified, it still makes for a big deal that drug dealers are risking the advertisement of illegal drugs on the clearnet rather than through the dark net where anonymity is guaranteed.
Most links uncovered featured explicit images of the drugs being advertised and conventional marketing language to hype the stocks.
Bestpushers, a Cardiff-based retailer, held one of the most-stocked outlets with a collection of drugs ranging from ketamine, Xanax, and LSD to cocaine, ecstasy, and crystal meth.
He analogized his business with a health center offering solutions to health problems, and himself with the doctor who was ready to listen and treat his patients with his selection of drugs.
Another seller from Swansea had an even wider spectrum of drugs, most of which he referred to by their slang names such as 420, kush, and weed for marijuana and its variants, coke for cocaine, and shard for crystal meth.
Some dealers even went the extra mile to mention their target groups, including teenagers.
Usually, Craigslist doesn’t take long to take down scam listings and those advertising illicit goods and services such as drugs, but that has not been the case with the drug retailers who have apparently been on the website for months.
Perhaps it is the way the site takes down listings that has played an exploitable loophole.
For the record, a post must be flagged down by several users for Craigslist’s administration to take it down.
That said, it is logical that the listings advertising drugs were still up even when plausible responsible users in the Wales Craigslist section must have considered flagging them down.
One explanation would be that there have not been enough users who have come across the listings, plausibly so because one must enter keywords related to drugs to find related listings.
It is coherent that users would log onto advertisement websites to search for what they need and not posts to flag down – a fact that makes it clear that even if enough users saw the listings advertising drugs, the bulk would be those who are actually looking for the drugs.
The case wasn’t any different when WalesOnline conducted a similar search on Twitter and Facebook.
They uncovered hundreds of handles and pages – most with affiliate websites, overt names, and substantial fan bases – offering varieties of drugs and after-sales services.
Most dealers were US-based, where it is legal in some states to sell medical and recreational marijuana, but seemed to focus on the UK market which offers lesser competition.
One such page “Medical Marijuana and Cannabis Oil for Sale” advertised medical marijuana to UK users and offered a range of multinational shipping options including FedEx, DHL, UPS, and EMS for orders.
Several more oversees and UK-based pages and handles used similar names and marketing terms to all but confirm that drugs, a once-sensitive issue in the UK, are becoming a commonplace topic on social platforms.
Andrew Williams of the UK Safer Internet Center seemed to concede that the UK government was losing the fight against online peddling of drugs when he was contacted on the matter.
“I’m not surprised they are there,” he said, pointing out the dealers’ boldness in such risky platforms.
According to him, the parents have a role to play – and that is to ensure they are acquainted with what their children search on the internet.
Martin Blakebrough of the drug charity Kaleidoscope criticized the government and intelligence services for ignorance, and said that this will only boost the confidence of dealers on the dark net to shift to the clearnet.
WalesOnline contacted Facebook and Twitter, both of whom refused to comment on individual cases but took down the pages and handles that had been uncovered.