Alarming Levels of Illegal Drugs Bought and Sold Daily on Craigslist

The fight against illegal drug use has taken another turn with law enforcement agencies working together to help crack down on ads promoting illegal drug use on craigslist, a popular national Web based forum for buying and selling items.

Drugs that have been posted for sale on craigslist include the street drug Ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine. These drugs join the list of numerous classified advertisements for prescription drugs and steroids posted daily, all illegal and without a prescription or permission. An estimated 50 million total ads are listed on craigslist monthly, and officials warn that the number of drug-related ads continues to escalate. The ads are linked to people from all professions and all social patterns, which officials say is a change from previous drug trafficking problems.

The ads promoting drugs have been placed on the trading post area of craigslist, and special investigators are responding by sending written requests to craigslist managers requesting that the ads be removed. District attorneys in states including New York and California have become involved in working with craigslist to end the drug-related ads, and law enforcement officials are arresting individuals who have bought and sold illegal drugs on the popular Web site.

The ads often use coded language, street names or obscure terms to inform readers that drugs are available, and those arrested are usually caught when they communicate about the ads with undercover drug or police officers. Individuals from across a gamut of roles have been arrested, including attorneys, college students and business professionals – groups not usually associated with illegal drug sales. Some, including high-profile young professionals, have cited financial problems and personal drug addictions as their motivator for selling drugs on craisglist.

Popular medications for anxiety and prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, are frequently joining craigslist ads for prescriptions for Viagra and Valium. Each of these medications requires a doctor’s prescription and can be extremely harmful or fatal when patients use them without a doctor’s supervision and correct dosages. Many may mix medications that can produce serious and deadly side effects. Additionally, the medications are unregulated, and the formulas may contain unknown substances or additives that can also produce unexpected side effects.

While the craigslist site does include drugs and prescription drugs among items that are prohibited, authorities say that because there’s no fee to post the ads and so many users access the site that the ads have remained unmonitored.

The ease of availability on craigslist, the perceived anonymity and a wide range of prices are contributing to the use of the site by people battling addictions and those who are personally involved in drug trafficking. There’s no cost to post an ad on craigslist, and that is also enticing the heightened activity. The Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force, called HALT, has worked with officials from Los Angeles County to help stop the sale of drugs through these ads. HALT officials have reported that some who post the drugs online have acquired them illegally through their careers in the healthcare industry.