A 10-month long operation led the Chicago police to arrest 50 people, and seize 17 different types of drugs worth $46,000 and at least 18 illegal firearms. During the operation, the Chicago police infiltrated several secret Facebook groups and found that they were clandestinely selling drugs and illegal arms.
The sting operation has come as a surprise for the investigators who were unaware that such kind of drug tradeoffs were prevalent on social media sites like Facebook, which are visited by millions of minors and adults each day. Little did they know that trading drugs on the dark web is increasingly growing popular. Its advantages over other modes of transaction are obvious. Internet offers anonymity, which makes it easier for both the user and the dealer to carry out their transactions. In addition, the currency used for such transactions, Bitcoin, cannot be traced or tracked easily. Even in the current drug and arms bust, the dealers operated under a code of strict secrecy. Not everyone could become a member and the group was not visible on anyone’s Facebook page. According to Anthony Riccio, chief of Chicago Police Department (CPD’s) Bureau of Organized Crime, the modus operandi was through invite only. “You have to be invited into it, and the groups are so tight that they actually require people to vouch for you.”
Lack of responsibility from Facebook
One of those arrested includes a gym teacher from an elementary school. Officials assert that the arrests could have been made sooner had Facebook cooperated. Daniel Caponigri from Leland Elementary allegedly used a Facebook account to arrange meetings with the investigators after they gained his trust. Not only did he sell drugs to the officers, but also 100 unidentified pills and some white powder. Caponigri has since been removed from service. Unlike others arrested, the gym teacher did not have a prior criminal record.
The investigations began in February, when an informer told the police about the illegal sale of armaments and drugs being carried out on Facebook. Immediately after, a covert operation was launched to catch the dealers red-handed.
At a news conference held on Dec.21, 2017, Chicago Superintendent of Police Eddie Johnson held Facebook responsible for not being proactive in monitoring such practices and failing to assist the authorities in the year-long investigation. Responding to public criticism, Facebook spokesperson Sarah Pollack said in an email that the company did not permit the sale of guns or drugs on its platform. She further assured that the company regularly works with law enforcement and will look into the matter.
Making a fresh beginning
Setting up virtual drugs markets is a serious threat to the society. It affects the youth more, especially because they are the largest consumers of social media and their age is that of experiment new things. One should be careful because an occasional use of drugs can turn into an addiction over time.
New Year provides one an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. The best gift that one could give oneself is that of sobriety. Sovereign Health, a leading substance abuse and behavioral health treatment provider in the United States, offers the best chances of recovery by combining traditional clinical approaches with new modalities. The drug addiction treatment programs at our state-of-the-art drug addiction treatment centers located across the country offer a wide range of holistic approaches like detox programs, medications, psychotherapies and recovery management programs to help one regain a healthy life. To learn more about our top-notch rehab programs, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with a representative.