[h2] Drug dealers invade teenagers' favourite website [/h2]
HUNDREDS of British drug dealers have infiltrated social networking site Facebook in a bid to snare new victims.
The gangs have set up special groups aimed at encouraging people who join to start smoking mind-bending “skunk” cannabis.
“I love weed and weed loves me!,” boasts one junkie Ben Norman on a site millons of parents believe to be safe for their youngsters to join.
“Always on the lookout for good s*** and will travel, add me (to Facebook friends list) and let’s all get high!“
This message was one of many we discovered on a shadowy group page labelled Smoke Weed Everyday.
It openly promotes the potentially dangerous drug with pictures of vacant-eyed skunk users out of their heads bragging about how great it made them feel.
But another called Can Anyone Get Me Some Damn Weed goes to more sinister levels—helping junkies contact DEALERS in their area. Our undercover reporter joined one of these evil groups and was immediately hooked up with a pair of online peddlers.
When she met first supplier Jed Watt, 19—who had brazenly posted his his mobile number on the site—he laughed out loud as he told how he had received “loads” of calls from desperate drug users looking for cannabis.
Later an ex-soldier called Rik Scott Holt, 31, supplied our girl with some “seriously strong” skunk—despite having recently served time after being found with more than a kilo of the drug.
Our investigator joined Facebook using false name Carly Hall.* She was soon swapping messages with baby-faced Watt. Despite not even knowing who she was, he boasted in druggie slang: “I’ve got sum sick lemon skunk . . . or thai weed.” The spotty teenager even arranged to meet her outside the home he shares with his parents, near Romford, Essex. Swigging a bottle of beer, he jumped into our reporter’s car where he was captured on a secret camera.
Watt babbled away non-stop about drugs. He even boasted he had just left a probation hearing—yet was still cultivating his own cannabis.
The part-time carpenter revealed: “I grow my own. But I’ve had so much trouble with the police. All the police know me. My mum doesn’t like me doing it. She just thinks I smoke it.” He told how he was so busy he was making deliveries through the night.
Watt directed our girl to a car park near a school where one of his “boys” called Ben and his girlfriend handed her six grams of cannabis for £30.
“It’s nice, I’ve been smoking it, it gets you stoned,” Watt insisted.
Then he even tried to get our girl to smoke a joint with him—but she declined. As she left he bragged: “I’ve had loads of people ring me after I put my number on that page—everyone rang me.”
Next came a rendezvous with Facebook peddler Holt who promised through the site he had “some of the best punk (skunk nickname) I have seen in the UK”.
Our girl met him at Raynes Park railway station, near Wimbledon, south west London, to buy £40 worth of cannabis. He handed over two different kinds of skunk called “wonder haze“ and “northern lights“.
I love weed. Add me and let's get high
The former army mortar operator made it clear that he would be willing to become a regular supplier and bragged that he had been in prison before over drugs. Facebook—which has 150 million users worldwide—insists it shuts down pages that promote or involve illegal activity. Indeed, since we started our investigation several of the groups we posted on have been removed.
A spokeswoman for the site said: “People who use Facebook to co-ordinate illegal activities are fools.
“We will work proactively to share information that aids in the prosecution of people orchestrating illegal activities off of Facebook, such as in this case. We work hard to make Facebook a safe and secure environment, and we encourage users to report anything suspicious. We also include a specific tool for reporting drug-related content.”
The drugs we were sold. Check back here later to view our video evidence when it is available.
A spokeswoman for Essex Police said: “We are grateful to the News of the World for bringing this to our attention and we will investigate fully.”
* Carly Hall was an assumed name used by our undercover reporter. There is no suggestion anyone of this name is involved in buying drugs on Facebook.
By Rachel Gallagher, Tom Latchem & Guy Basnett, 08/02/2009