Facebook has removed dozens of Instagram accounts that looked to be part of a single narcotics trafficking network in Singapore.
More than 50 accounts, all with usernames starting with 420_singapore, were deleted from the platform after they were flagged for selling weed, LSD, ecstasy and cocaine under the name Singapore Natural Store. However, a Thursday morning search showed a number of new accounts that appear part of the same group.
“After a long investigation, the vast majority of the accounts reported have been removed, and many of them were automatically detected and deleted by our systems. We do not allow the sale or trade of non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp,” a Facebook spokesperson told Coconuts recently. Asked Wednesday about the new accounts, company reps had yet to respond.
The accounts were first flagged on Reddit in early October in a thread questioning whether they were used for entrapment by law enforcement. A search found at least 50 such accounts at the time in October which fell to 40 in November and was 10 today.
The post included screenshots of the accounts, all of which were set to private and had no posts or followers. Each featured different psychedelic profile pictures of what appeared to be pixelated faces and each followed at least 100 other accounts.
Each profile’s description noted the sale of “high quality grass,” “shrooms,” and “snow,” aka weed, psilocybin and cocaine, respectively. They also promised “secure and smart delivery to your area” and links to a Telegram chat under the name Natural_wisdom.
Coconuts took the liberty to reach out via Telegram after the post first went up. In response to an inquiry, the operators responded with a long menu of drugs and four low-quality videos showing its purported stash of weed and cocaine from the United States, noting it to be the “favorite weed of Bob Marley,” along with LSD and ecstasy pills imprinted with the logo of American electric carmaker Tesla said to have been sourced from the Netherlands.
All items had discounts of up to 50% if purchased in bulk.
The original post quickly gained the attention of users in the Singapore subreddit, where people debated whether it was managed by real drug dealers or part of a police sting. Theories were left hanging after the post was removed by moderators the next day for breaking the rules of posting “social media accounts related to buying and selling.”
Many online remain unconvinced that it wasn’t part of a law enforcement operation, noting that Singapore has no law against the police coercing people into committing crimes, aka entrapment.
The sale of narcotics on social media has been a problem among teens in the United States and the United Kingdom, where drugs are sold through related hashtags and sellers contacted via direct messages.
While no drug busts on social media have been reported in Singapore so far, the Central Narcotics Bureau said in a 2019 report that 62% of first-time drug suspects were under the age of 30. It promised ramped-up outreach initiatives to youths on social media, through schools and parents. Its latest campaign included the use of augmented reality to educate students on the damaging effects of drug abuse in a more engaging way.
The bureau has not responded to multiple inquiries sent since October.
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