SnapChat And Other Social Media Platforms Used By Dealers To Sell Illegal Guns
Harin - Aug 24, 2019
Guns and drugs dealers are using a new method to connect with their customers: through Snapchat and other social media platforms.
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Unfortunately, there is nothing new when it comes to illegal weapon trade. But what’s new is the way dealers contact their customers: via Snapchat or other available social media platforms.
A new story from the Guardian talks about how federal authorities caught weapons dealers using social media to advertise illegal guns. These platforms were later used to bring them to justice.
In one case, Anthony Reed, a resident from Nevada used Snapchat to advertise illegal guns. In his posts on the social media platform, Reed could be seen walking around or driving his car with the weapons in his hand. This caught the eye of an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The agent then used the same app to contact Reed.
After going undercover for 11 months, the agent acquired from Reed and his accomplices 35 handguns. Court documents from federal prosecutors stated that for the whole time, Reed continuously posted firearms’ photos and videos to his account on Snapchat.
However, Reed is not the only dealer who uses social media as a method to advertise illegal guns.
In a warrant application from ATF agency Whitney Hameth for an alleged gun trafficker case caught via Instagram, she wrote that individuals who took part in drug and gun trafficking use smartphone apps, cellphones as well as online messaging functions of websites like Instagram and Facebook to contact their co-conspirators, suppliers, and customers. These methods are also used to arrange the sales of drugs and guns, confirm quantities and prices, choose the meeting places.
Responding to how it deals with gun sales, a Snapchat spokesperson provided the general policies of the company on prohibited content.
However, Snapchat is not the online platform used by guns and drugs dealer. Gun sellers have also communicated with their clients using Facebook’s Marketplace even when the secondhand forum has a strict policy on forbidding gun sales. Instagram is another communication method used by these dealers.