Dealing drugs is just as illegal in cyberspace as it is IRL, a point the NYPD made abundantly clear in announcing the arrest of 21 geniuses who used Craigslist and other websites to sell prescription drugs. Some of the web ads advertising the drugs were facepalmingly dumb: “Friendly Nyu student who can offer pain relief and anxiety relief. Easy, non-sketchy, straightforward meeting” declared one Craigslist ad for “perc roxy.” Another optimistically promised “Study longer and without anxiety! Be professional and not law enforcement.” Unfortunately for the dealer, a bunch of rude undercover narcotics officers completely ignored his instructions.
During the course of the 11-month investigation, undercover officers made 63 drug purchases for over $29,400, including approximately $19,000 in pills and $10,400 in cocaine. Most of the arrests took place over the course of the past month, with an additional two busts today. According to New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor:
The defendants sold more than 1,000 prescription pills, including as Roxicontin, Adderall, Ambien, Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, Suboxone, Opana, Klonopin and Valium. The officers also purchased quantities of heroin and ecstasy. Sales took place in the vicinity of Union Square and Washington Square Park, on street corners and in meeting spots such as coffee shops, grocery stores and a book store, among other locations.
Undercover officers also met sellers in Midtown Manhattan, near Penn Station and in the MetLife Building, and in SoHo, the West Village, the Lower East Side and the Upper East Side. The defendants range in age from 22 to 62 and represent a broad spectrum of occupations, from student, teacher’s aide and human resource professional to celebrity photographer and dot com entrepreneur. Some individuals have no identifiable source of legitimate income.
The photographer, by the way, is 62-year-old Charlyn Zlotnick, a freelancer who lives in the East Village and has photographed everyone from David Bowie to Bob Dylan. Half of the 21 defendants were arrested for selling Adderall, which is always popular among college kids.
"It is illegal to sell prescription drugs whatever the source," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan in a statement. "The black market or pills originally prescribed to you. Clearly there is an overabundance of prescription drugs and opportunists looking to profit from their access to them. As a result, we are battling escalating rates of addiction and overdose deaths."