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60 suspected drug dealers in Florida arrested during sting operation using dating apps, social media


The Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida on Thursday announced charges against 68 suspected drug dealers as part of an undercover operation using social media and dating apps. 

The six-month operation dubbed “Swipe Left for Meth” — a play on Grindr and other dating apps that require users to “swipe” through scores of potential dates in their area — concluded in the arrests of 60 individuals and securement of eight arrest warrants for individuals still at-large related to drug sales or possession. 

Operation "Swipe Left for Meth." (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

Operation “Swipe Left for Meth.” (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

“We’ve known for some time that suspects will use the internet and social media to prey upon children online, or to engage in prostitution, but this is something we are seeing more and more of in Polk County — suspects who are using dating apps to sell illegal narcotics,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.” Suspects are getting more creative, but so are our detectives.”

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The sheriff’s office received a tip in the summer of 2021 saying people were selling narcotics on the dating app Grindr.

Sheriff Grady Judd speaks at a press conference. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

Sheriff Grady Judd speaks at a press conference. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Investigators found that it was “relatively easy” to strike conversation with dealers selling methamphetamine, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, Fentanyl and marijuana, according to a press release.

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“We’re working with these mobile app companies to raise awareness, and asking for their cooperation during our investigations,” Judd said. “The good news is, we found that some who were on the dating app were reporting illegal drug sales when it became apparent to them, and the mobile app companies were banning some suspects attempting to sell drugs. When we find drug dealers, we put them in jail.”

Online dating apps

Online dating apps
(iStock)

Deputies filed a total of 159 felony charges and 72 misdemeanor charges. The suspects involved had a total of 908 combined previous felony and misdemeanor charges. Their ages ranged between 22 years old and 67 years old. More than 50 of those arrested sold narcotics, the sheriff’s office said.

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As a result of the investigation, 14 firearms, 280 grams of meth, 3 grams of cocaine, 1.5 grams of fentanyl, 113 grams of Ecstasy, 1 gram of LSD, 28 grams of mushrooms, and 645 grams of marijuana were seized. 

Deputies will continue to monitor social media apps for illegal drug transactions.



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