Instagram's Killer App: Drug Dealing

While legitimate marketers are scratching their heads about how to use Instagram to sell everything from diapers to diamonds, one group of innovative entrepreneurs is already doing a thriving business on the photo-sharing network: drug dealers! That’s according to DrugAbuse.com, which investigated to find out just how easy it is to buy drugs on Instagram.

The answer: very, very easy. And by easy I also mean not very mentally taxing -- you don’t have to learn code words or signals or anything, apparently you just straight up ask for what you want. DrugAbuse.com notes: “The word ‘obvious’ is an understatement for how these dealers operate. With usernames like ‘ihavedrugs4sale.’ and drug-riddled posts/pictures, these guys (and girls) eagerly flaunt their offerings. The most popular items in their stock include marijuana, prescription painkillers, xanax, molly (mdma), and lean (codeine syrup mixture).”

Marijuana was far and away the most popular drug being sold, offered by 82% of dealers, followed by “lean,” a codeine concoction made from cough syrup, offered by 58%; MDMA (ecstasy) at 20%; painkillers at 18%; xanax, at 16%; psychedelic mushrooms, at 6%; cocaine, 2%; and LSD at 2%. Some of the pictures are quite artistic: one shows $100 bills fanned out in a circular platter with a healthy serving of marijuana in the middle. Oh, and 2% of the dealers also included pictures of their guns, presumably as a deterrent in case you thought you might “rip and run.”

Again, these dealers aren’t exactly the French Connection when it comes to concealing their activities: you can find the posts by searching for hashtags like #weed4sale, #xanax, #lean and #pills. And a remarkable 34% of the dealers showed their face in the photos.

When it comes to contacting the dealers, Kik was the most popular channel, at 48%, followed by standard text messaging at 26%; email, at 16%; Instagram direct messages at 14%; photo comments at 10%; and Facebook at 2%. Most of the shipment is by standard services including the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx.

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