Law enforcement agencies here have begun a crackdown on drug dealers’ use of the Internet to attract customers.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department last week announced that it had made 19 arrests and seized drugs and $25,000 in U.S. and Mexican currency after a five-month undercover investigation called Operation.com.
Deputies found drugs easily available on sites like Facebook and Craigslist, where ads use code names like “roofing tar” for heroin and “Roxy board shorts size 30" for 30 milligrams of Roxicodone.
“You would not believe how easy it is,” said sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Barletta. “Anyone, any time, can go online and do the search. ... The dealer tells you where and when to meet; they’ll be there and get you pretty much what you would like.”
There is a website providing all the code names, Barletta said. He suggested that parents familiarize themselves with the code names and drug dealers’ misuse of the Internet.
Undercover deputies made 41 buys. The 19 persons arrested range in age from 19 to 45, most them unemployed or students living in San Diego, Escondido, Poway, El Cajon, La Mesa, Encinitas and Menifee.
More arrests are expected, Barletta said. Seven arrest warrants are outstanding.
Seized were quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, cocaine, Ecstasy and prescription drugs.
Use of the Internet to sell illicit drugs has become a national issue in recent years.
In 2013, a 29-year-old man was arrested in San Francisco on suspicion of running a website called Silk Road that had sold marijuana and a variety of drugs to buyers worldwide. The arrest was made after the man allegedly asked an undercover FBI agent to kill a former employee.