The most popular social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are now “the leading source of illegal drug purchases for teenagers and young adults, according to The New York Times” reports The Foreign Desk News.
The apps are able to effectively target and advertise to youth with anonymity, temporary posts and emojis. In order to evade obvious criminal activity, often emojis are used as representation of the drug or illegal activity.
In addition to deadly drug deals conducted, connections are made to children in the organized crime world. “Reports emerged earlier this year that the cartel is using social media apps to recruit American teens to drive illegal immigrants across the border at a rate of up to $3,000 per person” reports The Foreign Desk.
For example, a crystal ball is used to represent selling meth, and a bus is used for Xanax. Offenders “choose who can see the post, which could be a story on Instagram or Snapchat, and then delete it once they have enough contacts. Sale arrangements are often made off-platform with a secure messaging app and payments can be made through apps like Venmo or Cash App” adds The Foreign Desk.
Fentanyl laced drugs has resulted in teenage deaths almost quadrupling from 253 in 2019 to 884 in 2021, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Fentanyl’s potency is roughly 100 times that of morphine, making only a tiny amount, such as little as two milligrams, to be fatal. “A tiny amount can produce similar effects as the advertised drugs at a much lower cost. So illegal drug makers often sprinkle it into pills which are sold to buyers who only have their dealer’s word on what the pills contain” adds The Foreign Desk.
“Overdose victims often die when they use a drug they thought was Percocet or even Xanax, for example but is actually fentanyl or laced with an indiscriminate amount of fentanyl.”
Fentanyl, like other opioids, causes death by depressing the respiratory drive. Overdose victims can go into respiratory arrest the instant a lethal dose enters their system and die within minutes as they suffocate while unconscious.
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