Buying Drugs Over Snapchat | High Society

It’s been a month,
you’ve saved up your dough. Come to me,
100 percent Peruvian snow. I’m going to try and order
some drugs online. How do you guys usually
sell your drugs? Snapchat and Instagram. You’ve kind of got to be like
an Instagram influencer. If I put a picture up
and no one liked it, I’d be a bit wounded, wouldn’t I? Until I get the answers and I find out who is responsible
for my daughter’s death, I won’t stop. I won’t stop. I can see why people take the law
into their own hands, as well. Drugs have never been more marketed
than they are now. From glossy business cards, raffles, fluorescent, branded pills
on websites with menus, drug dealing has come a long way
from a bloke saying, “Weed, cocaine, MDMA”
on a street corner. Now it’s all about
Snapchat, Instagram. Since this industry exploded
onto social media, drug dealers have brazenly used
public accounts on Snapchat and Instagram
to shot their wares. It’s easy isn’t it? Anyone can do it. You can sit at home
and make an account. The most recent European
drug report referred to this as an “Uberization”
of the drug market, with it now being easier to order
a gram of gak than a pizza. But with this ease of access
and glossy marketing has come a dark outcome: a sharp uptake in drug use
in children as young as 10. It’s their choice to get the drugs,
at the end of the day. The world has been hit by a wave
of high-profile deaths of children who have taken class A drugs,
such as Ecstasy. And many have been found to have
bought those drugs on Instagram and Snapchat. So I searched the apps to see how
easy it is to buy drugs. So I’m going to try and order
some drugs online. And to do this I’m going to set
up my own Instagram account and Snapchat account. And I’m going to see if I can add
dealers on it and basically pick up. So I’ve chosen some quite
young-looking pictures. The mask was quite recent to be fair. And I’ve tried to put quite
childish captions beneath. Screams “Youth.” And I’m going to see if they
ask me how old I am, or care how old I am. And I’m also going to try
and see how quick it is to get a response from them. I might type in “Ecstasy”
and see… what comes up. Oh my God, OK. So there’s Mastercard pills, mushrooms, acid, MDMA, pills, Trump pills. There’s also some Supreme pills here. This guy is shotting crystal meth. Oh God, it doesn’t look
very appetizing. I found this account, which is
104 dealers that are using Snapchat, that you can contact if you just
type in their name. So it’s basically
a drug dealer’s directory. And Snapchat is a predominantly
under-18 market. So it’s kind of unsurprizing that a lot of kids come across
drugs on Snapchat, because they literally
use it all the time. I’ve just got a message from someone called ‘Plug Life.’ He just goes, “Hi.” “Hey how are you?” Oh, I keep asking how they are. Oh God, it’s popping off. He wants to post it. I guess, in a way, that kind of
makes it less intimidating for kids to buy drugs. All they need is an address
and a Snapchat account. OK, “I hope we are to
proceed immediately.” He’s a bit aggy. I don’t want to order off this guy. I got a message from this guy
being like, “Yo, what’s your order
and where are you located?” And I said, “Hey, I’m in London,
is that OK?” And he goes, “Yeah, what’s your order and what’s your address
for drop off?” That literally took me five minutes and I could already be going
to pick up some drugs. With buying drugs on social media being so fast and simple, I wondered whether the platforms
had also made it easier to operate as a dealer
in the first place. So I organised to meet a young dealer who had recently got into selling
cocaine and weed on social media. How did you first get into it? All my friends are doing it,
so I just got a little bit of stuff and went from there really. Got an account without my name on it,
obviously, you know, so people would message me on
Snapchat or Instagram. I’ve been doing it for years and
I’ve never been arrested or anything. Do you think that’s a bit risky, because it’s kind of just out there
for everyone to see? I know the risks,
but if you want money then you’ve got to do it,
haven’t you? Nothing worth having
comes easy, does it? What percentage of your customers
come through social media? A good 90 percent, at least. Wow, that’s quite a lot. Yeah, it’d probably be more,
mainly all on social media now. So tell me the process, how it works. Well, I wake up in the morning,
go buy my stuff, whatever. And then put a picture of it
on Instagram. People will like it and stuff,
they’ll DM me, and then it goes from there really. Just whatever they want,
I’ve got it, haven’t I? Then they’ll come meet me
and I’ll sell it to them. When you post a pic and it gets
loads of likes, does it feel kind of
like a holiday pic? Does it feel good? If I put a picture up
and no one liked it, I’d be a bit wounded, wouldn’t I? Have you kind of got to be like an
Instagram influencer to progress? Obviously, I suppose if you already
got a big following and people trust you then it’s better
to start like that. I don’t necessarily use hashtags
and stuff. It’s just more through
people liking my pictures and then other people see it. But the picture doesn’t stay up
for long anyway. It only stays up for about
half a day, then I take it down. Anyone can sell nowadays. You see little kids, 12-year-olds
and everything, you know, setting up accounts and that. Because it’s easy, isn’t it?
Anyone can do it. You can sit at home, make an account
and make money. Who doesn’t want to do that? Social media has clearly made it
easier for young people to both become drug dealers
and take drugs. And since drugs have radically
shifted into the digital sphere, there has been a slew of deaths
among young people. I’d heard about the death
of a 13-year-old girl in Warrington named Ebony, who had died of an Ecstasy overdose
at the end of 2018. Feeling let down by the police, her mother, Kerry, has since
made it her mission to find who was responsible for selling drugs
to her child. On the first of December, something just made me get up out of
bed and just go and check on her. Walked to her bedroom,
opened the door, and she was having a seizure. So the ambulance people got in, and I just see Ebony
on the stretcher. And they’re resuscitating her. I’m sorry. Trying to bring her back to life,
trying to get her heart working. I just collapsed. Collapsed in the hospital. And what do you suspect happened? Well, it’s been put in her drink,
we know that. It’s come back that actually
the bottles were laced with MDMA. I have heard that there’s
quite a lot of teenagers, like young, say 13, 14 onwards,
that are taking this stuff. But it is around Liverpool areas where there has been
quite a few deaths. People are coming forward,
saying to me that there are people that are using Instagram and Snapchat
to sell drugs. And maybe Ebony got her drugs
from there. We put a ‘Rest in Peace Ebony’
page up. That’s a page on Instagram which is
run by three of her friends, Ebony’s close friends. Basically says, “Anybody please give
any information and it will remain anonymous.” And we have had
plenty of information. Quite a few of the text messages say, “This drug has come from a gang
called ‘Happy Dayz’.” The police need to look at that. I’ve had no response off the police. The police haven’t visited me once. Myself and the neighbors, we’ve been
doing our own investigations. This is a conversation that I had
with one of the police officers. It looks like this job
has fallen through the net in that it’s fallen
into a pool of jobs currently not being handled
by anybody. I’m sorry, that’s ****. – That is ****.
– Yeah. These people need investigating. But I haven’t got the means
and the resources to be doing that. That’s the police’s job. Kerry has received a series
of anonymous tip-offs that Ebony may have been sold drugs by a Snapchat gang known as
‘Happy Dayz’, who apparently sell outside a toddler
softplay center of that name. I went to help Kerry flyer there. I’ve got a flyer here. Basically, it’s asking for anybody with any information
about the deaths. I’ve been putting all these posters
up around this area. Until I get the answers and I find out who’s responsible
for my daughter’s death, I won’t stop. I won’t stop. And do you know what?
I can see why people take the law into their own hands as well,
definitely. So this here’s now Happy Days,
the building we’re approaching. Happy Days is a softplay area
where kids go. But overnight, when
the building’s shut down, it’s been known that a few gangs
will hang around here and sell the drugs to the kids. They called themselves
the ‘Happy Dayz Crew’. And how did you find that out? It was kids on the internet
telling me. They think that Ebony’s drug
came from here. ‘Happy Dayz’ does have a part
of Instagram and selling drugs, I know there’s a connection. Do you think social media sites
need to be held accountable? I don’t think there’s a lot we can
do about that, to be honest. Unless somebody stands up
and reports them for doing it. It needs parents just to be
a little bit more aware and talk to their kids about drugs. I know we all do, as parents. I did, to my kids. Kids needs to be told
to stay away from that stuff. You don’t know what you’re getting, and you are playing Russian
roulette with your life. But if there is anything going
on with social media, just stay away from it. What is your end goal for all this? I just want to find out who is
responsible for Ebony’s death. I want them held accountable. I’m going to meet a couple of
teenage drug dealers. They’re the kind of drug dealers
that Ebony and her friends might have been buying drugs off. They sell on Instagram and Snapchat,
and I want to find out how they think social media has changed the game
of drug dealing. So what are you guys selling tonight? Some flake. Some Cali. Some weed. Different types of weed. And what’s in there? That’s sleigh, that. Cocaine, yeah? And you’ve been doing
that for how long? Five years. And how old are the people usually?
What’s the age range of people? Usually adults for cocaine. It’s mostly adults for cocaine. That’s true, because it’s expensive. Is it because MDMA is cheap
that kids like that? Yeah, you can get MD for dirt cheap. Yeah, dirt cheap. A tenner or something. – Really, a tenner for that?
– For a gram, it’s a gram. For a gram? Wow, that’s cheap. Who is that ringing? It doesn’t matter. Is that your dealer phone? Yeah, yeah. How do you guys usually
sell your drugs? Through Snapchat and **** like that. Snapchat and Instagram. This is the different sorts of…
weed, isn’t it? It’s just menus, isn’t it? That’s the money. Different buds and that. We get a lot of money. We put it out on Snapchat, there’s
a lot more people coming to us. You get a lot more money. You help people out by doing them
favours, things and stuff, so you overweigh the bags and stuff. They shout you out
and then you get more customers. Like, their mates will come
round to you, so they’re earning you money,
do you know what I mean? And do you think that kids are
subjected to drugs more now? I’ve seen kids doing them about
12 years old and that. Things like that,
like really young ages. No matter what age you are,
it doesn’t matter. It’s their choice to go out
on Snapchat. It’s more your sort of friends group. Your friends, they do it, we don’t,
you know what I mean? You’re the one that texts for it, we don’t text you asking,
“Do you want it?” So they’re the ones coming to us. But we’re not like, persuading them, we don’t try and do them deals
or something. If they text us from what he
puts in his story, or something, then they’ll get served, obviously. And then they shout you out
and put you in their story. And then their friends come to you,
do you know what I mean? So they’re getting you
customers and that. Right, so that’s the way
that they find it? – Yeah.
– Yeah, yeah. So there’s more people
telling each other. It’s word getting about, isn’t it? It’s their choice to get the drugs,
at the end of the day. People have got to make the
money some way. If you’ve got to sell drugs,
you’ve got to do it. Have you guys heard of young people
around this area dying from taking drugs? Some people take
dodgy ecstasy tablets and that. Like teenagers. It’s teenagers, 16, 15, isn’t it? And have you heard of the stories
of young people dying from buying off Snapchat
and Instagram? They don’t know where it comes from. Don’t know. Turn it off. And again. Alright. Go on, I’ll ring you. What were they asking for? Doesn’t matter. It’s mum. These are just two of many kids who have gotten into drug dealing
in this area. And despite knowing the
potential fatal consequences, they seem quite unconcerned
about selling to minors. This explosion of drug dealing onto
social media, and its repercussions, are now being debated in the
halls of government. Drug NGO Volteface
recently published a study that documents the tech-savvy ways
the industry has been revolutionized. Our polling data identified that it’s
Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram where drugs are most commonly seen. Social media is the ideal platform
for drug dealers. So they can adopt similar
marketing techniques that legitimate businesses would use,
do bundles, they can do giveaways. We found that one in four young
people see drug adverts on social media, which I thought
was astonishingly high. We found that most of what they see
is cannabis. But actually cocaine, MDMA, Xanax, nitrous oxide
were also quite high up. I think we should note
that NHS data has shown that class A drug use amongst
11-to-15-year-olds is increasing. Do the police force have resources
to go through social media and look for drug dealers? From what I can see, no they don’t. They don’t even have the resources to be dealing with more traditional
methods of dealing, where it would happen on the street. When I went through your report,
there was a text of different emojis that you thought that drug dealers
would use when they’re online. Do you think the police force
don’t know about that kind of thing? Yeah, and something that we
recommend in our report is that there should be a regulatory
obligation for social media platforms to monitor their sites, be aware
of what would be examples of the sort of emojis and language
that dealers are using. And we make the case that they
should be passing that information on to the police. Would you say that social media
has made it easier for people to become drug dealers? I think it absolutely has. But actually what social media
is doing is it’s advertising to
mainly young people, how easy it is to become
a drug dealer. We’re really worried by that. Like every other business, drug dealing has evolved
in conjunction with technology, using modern tools of marketing
and finding a new audience. When that audience involves minors,
we’re in a terrifying new world where kids are taking substances
that their bodies can’t handle. Which is made worse by the fact that
they don’t have any education on drugs, and how much is too much. Should social media giants be forced
to shut down every account that’s selling drugs? Or should the authorities work closer
with these companies to better regulate this
digital Wild West? What’s certain is that spreading
harm reduction education, especially at a young age, would help prevent these
endless deaths of young people.

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