Scots drug dealers are brazenly selling crystal meth, cocaine and cannabis on classified ads site Craigslist – by listing drugs under the guise of power tools and crockery.
An investigation by our sister site Edinburgh Live has uncovered listings for illicit substances that are written up in the style of ads hawking homeware.
However the text appears to be a means of circumventing Craigslist’s automatic moderation filters, which are designed to stop illegal goods and services from being promoted through the site.
While their written description is innocuous, each ad carries a picture showing drug paraphernalia and contact details for the dealers, who demand payment in untraceable cryptocurrency for what they say are Class A substances.
The investigation tracked listings on the capital’s section of the popular US-based listings website for six months, with some ads remaining up for weeks at a time without being removed by moderators.
One advert, claiming to be for a bowl, features an image promoting “Carts, Md, Coke, Ice, Pills and Weed,” with a pin number to contact a supplier on Wickr, an instant messaging platform owned by Amazon.
It also lists “crypto” as the preferred form of payment and has remained active on the website for more than three weeks.
A drug charity said the practice is now “routine” with some dealers offering “fast, convenient and straight-to-your-door” deliveries.
Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD), said: “Buying online via a whole range of apps and platforms is now routine, and has been for some time.
“Families tell us how hard it is to know what drugs are being ordered from, or are being delivered to, their family home when it is all so discreet.
“Packages arrive labeled as other products (eg vitamin supplements) and they may be delivered by registered courier services, not necessarily by dealers.”
She added: “This raises huge challenges for families who are trying to create boundaries within their own family home and reduce the drug harms they are experiencing.
“It also adds another layer of difficulty for anyone who is trying to reduce their drug use, as everything is so accessible from your house.”
Several of the adverts seen by Edinburgh Live featured descriptions of “bolts, tools and work lamps” in an apparent effort to bypass Craigslist’s moderation process.
Another lists fake IDs, driver’s licenses and vehicle registration documents – with a contact number for a seller on messaging app Kik.
Police Scotland say they are aware of the “tactics” and have deployed a range of resources to investigate.
Superintendent Hilary Sloan, from the force’s partnerships, prevention and community wellbeing team, said: “Police Scotland is very aware of the tactics, mechanisms and platforms used by drug dealers and we have a wide range of resources available to investigate this kind of criminality.
“We remain committed to making Scotland a hostile environment for those involved in this trade.”
She added: “Anyone who is aware of drug dealing is asked to contact Police Scotland via 101, or 999 in an emergency, or Crimestoppers.”
Craigslist, which made over £500 million from private listings in 2021, did not respond to requests for comment.
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