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Chicago police say Facebook ‘secret groups’ traffic in guns and drugs

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Police in Chicago said on Thursday they have arrested 50 people suspected of using “secret groups” on Facebook to deal in guns and drugs, and have teamed up with the world’s largest social media network to crack down on criminal trafficking online.

Announcing the arrests at a news conference, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson initially criticized Facebook as being unhelpful during a 10-month investigation by his department.

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“Quite frankly, they haven’t been very friendly to law enforcement to prevent these things,” he told reporters.

However, police later said the department and the California-based company agreed to work collaboratively “to target any illegal activity on the platform.”

Police did not detail charges facing the 50 men and women arrested through Thursday, but said there were “dozens and dozens” of private Facebook groups being used for illegal drug and weapons transactions. Arrest warrants for 18 more suspects have been signed, and most have prior criminal histories, police said.

Among the illicit sites monitored by police was one offering a “Thanksgiving special” on cocaine baggies discounted to $40 from a normal street price of $60.

In an emailed statement on Thursday, Facebook Inc, which boasts 2 billion users worldwide, said it had only just been alerted to the arrests in Chicago.

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“We do not allow the sale of guns or drugs on our platform. We routinely work with law enforcement and outline how officials may submit a request on our site,” Facebook added.

Among those arrested was an elementary school teacher taken into custody at his Chicago school in possession of scales often used for weighing drugs, according to Anthony Riccio, chief of the police department’s organized crime unit.

Since a confidential informant alerted investigators about alleged criminal trade on Facebook in February, police detectives working undercover arranged for the purchase of 17 different types of drugs and 18 different illegal firearms, Riccio said.

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Riccio said investigators created covert identities on Facebook and were invited into private groups, which are closed unless the user-administrator allows someone to join. Police then monitored messages and contacted those in the group via Facebook to make buys.

Chicago has been singled out by President Donald Trump as one of the most violent U.S. cities. In 2016, the number of murders there exceeded 760.

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By Bernie Woodall

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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2020 Election

‘Un-American’ anti-lockdown protesters hammered by Army veteran for appropriating military gear to make their point

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In a Memorial Day column for the Washington Post, military vet Drew Garza -- who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan among other deployments -- hammered anti-lockdown protesters who have appropriated a quasi-military style of dress while sometimes carrying "un-American" flags at lockdown rallies.

According to the U.S. Army vet who is now a Tillman scholar at George Washington University, protesters who adorn themselves in military-style garb while carrying high-powered weapons to protest stay-at-home orders designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is a personal affront to those who have actually served.

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Michael Moore warns liberals that Trump is trying to scare them away from voting using his ‘guys with guns’

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Liberal activist Michael Moore is concerned that his fellow progressives are being scared off by President Donald Trump and his friends with guns.

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"This time he's already got his gun guys. The guys with the guns. You saw this in Michigan," said Moore. "Showing up at the capitol for the last couple of weeks with their long arms and threatening everybody to the point where the governor, last Tuesday, just shut the legislature down. She was so afraid. I want to appeal to people to not be afraid of these guys with the guns. I went to high school with them. I know. They want to kill Bambi. That's their idea of a real fight. Them and a deer. If the deer were ever armed -- if it was a fair fight, these guys would never be in the woods."

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Trump’s ATF nominee stalled after conservatives express concerns over his position on gun rights

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President Donald Trump's appointee to the lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was stalled Tuesday as conservatives expressed concern over his position on guns, Politico reported.

Chuck Canterbury, the former president of the Fraternal Order of Police was nominated last year but his appointment was held up by Republicans. Trump has complained that it was Democrats who held up nominations in the Senate.

“I don't personally support any more restrictions than are currently in the law,” said Canterbury when speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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