Authorities in Polk County charged 68 people in connection with selling illegal narcotics through several dating apps. Officials arrested 60 suspects and have arrest warrants for the other eight. The six-month undercover investigation began in July 2021 and included the apps Grindr, Scruff and Taimi.
The undercover investigation
The investigation “Swipe Left for Meth” found that dealers were using birthday cake and ice cream cone emojis to announce they were selling drugs along with code words like “Tina” and “party” for methamphetamine. The undercover narcotics detectives set up profiles on the apps and had conversations with the dealers to get evidence for drug charges. The sellers reportedly had methamphetamine, LSD, fentanyl, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. After the undercover detectives’ conversations and sales, they determined that the people were only on the apps to sell drugs.
Dating apps’ reactions
In the aftermath of the investigation, two of the dating apps released statements. The sale of drugs and other illegal activities on Grindr violate the community guidelines. The company has moderators who work daily to ban violators from the app.
Taimi discourages illegal or aggressive activity. Drug deals violate the community guidelines, but the company can’t access users’ direct messaging activity.
The investigation aftermath
There were 159 felony and 72 misdemeanor drug charges during the investigation. The suspects already had 453 prior felony and 455 misdemeanor drug charges between them. After executing search warrants for three addresses, the detectives seized 14 firearms. The undercover detectives bought 3 grams of cocaine and 280 grams of methamphetamine worth about $14,000 on the street. Other drugs found during the investigations included 130 pills of ecstasy, 28 grams of psychedelic mushrooms, 1.5 grams of fentanyl or heroin, 1 gram of LSD, and 645 grams of marijuana.
Detectives say they will continue monitoring dating apps for illegal activity. Further investigation might lead to additional criminal charges for drug trafficking