As the United States deals with its deadliest overdose crisis to date, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) has asked the US Justice Department to look into social media company Snap, Inc.’s business practices as the preferred platform for fentanyl drug dealers.
“Drug dealers are using American innovation to sell lethal products,” NCPC Executive Director Paul DelPonte wrote to US Attorney General Merrick Garland. He said that the clock is ticking and soon someone will die from fentanyl poisoning. This is because they may have purchased a fake pill on any social media platform, such as Snapchat.
Snap, Inc. has drawn the ire of family members, law enforcement, community groups, and others for failing to crack down on known drug dealers who use their platform to sell fentanyl-laced pills. Two milligrams roughly the size of a few grains of sugar–are sufficient to kill the average adolescent. Dealers on the platform typically sell fake pills containing the lethal substance for less than $25.00. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is involved in 84% of teen overdose deaths.
The company employs encrypted technology that allows drug dealers to avoid arrest and prosecution, and it has spent heavily on public relations related to opioid addiction rather than making significant changes to its platform. Snap recently falsely attributed claims about how the company is assisting in the reduction of fentanyl deaths to to the Drug Enforcement Administration. When asked about such news reports, the DEA stated that it had no knowledge to back up the company’s unverified claims. Snapchat has been publicly chastised by DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.
According to DelPonte, the sale of drugs on Snapchat is a violation of multiple laws related to narcotics, copyright, trade, trademarks, and other felonies. A probe into the business practices of Snap is long overdue. The NCPC launched the October 19 Lives Project, a digital remembrance quilt, in honor of the lives lost due to a fake pull purchased online. It is also an initiative unveiled to raise awareness about the severity of the fentanyl issue.
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