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Dublin: 15°C Thursday 5 August 2021

Garda drug units set up Snapchat accounts to snare online drug dealers

Gardaí have set up accounts to monitor the dealers.

One of the dealers' profiles.
One of the dealers' profiles.
Image: Snapchat

GARDAÍ ARE LAUNCHING a crackdown on drug dealers using social media to sell their products during Level 5 restrictions, TheJournal.ie has learned. 

Many drug dealers, especially within the Dublin region, are using apps such as Snapchat to advertise their products. It is mostly cocaine and cannabis which are being sold through this platform. 

However, there have been certain “deals” advertised which have gardaí concerned. For instance, on one post visible to all Snapchat users, the dealers show a quantity of suspected cocaine and a blister pack of benzodiazepine and offer a price. Polydrug use such as this can be fatal, the HSE and various drug charities have previously warned. 

Other posts inform potential customers of the levels of “stock” left until the dealers get another delivery. 

Gardaí have been aware of sellers on these platforms for several years. However, they are becoming more popular during the pandemic. 

Real-time information about the location of the dealer or the customer can be received by both sides.

But in a bid to combat these drug sales, gardaí have created dozens of Snapchat accounts to gather intelligence on the dealers, who they work for and who their suppliers are. 

While some of these accounts have been been found out to belong to members of the force, gardaí feel there is a lot of intelligence to be gathered if they can go unnoticed. 

The dealers are aware not to trust new accounts asking intrusive question. However, it is hoped that the presence of gardaí on the platform will act as some form of deterrent against the blatant advertising on these platforms. 

Security sources with knowledge of the Dublin drug trade said that younger people are turning to online platforms to source cocaine and cannabis as it doesn’t involve much face time. 

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“You go on the app, you order what you want and you can follow the guy’s location until he reaches your home just like a pizza. Then you have it, the cash is paid and away they go. How easy it is is just frightening,” he said. 

Garda drug units will continue to target online sales, multiple sources have told this publication.  

When asked about gardaí’s relationship with social media firms, a garda spokeswoman said: 

“All crimes reported to An Garda Síochána are investigated fully.  The means of each investigation is determined by the investigating member and all avenues of investigation are utilised. An Garda Síochána does not comment on the manner in which an investigation is conducted.”

Snapchat has been contacted for comment. 

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