Investigators have long trolled the pages of Craigslist looking for people looking to commit illicit activities. Whether it’s selling stolen merchandise, advertising one’s sexual services, or simply selling drugs, you may be able to find it on Craigslist – if you know where to look.
Over the past several months, Craigslist has emerged as a major hub for people looking to buy and sell the dangerous drug called Fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid that’s typically used in a medical setting to ease intense post-surgical pain in hospitalized patients, or to treat short-term conditions that are accompanied by significant pain. Fentanyl is roughly one-hundred times more powerful that morphine, most doctors’ go-to drug for pain relief, and about 50 times more powerful than heroine.
Controlled substances and other illicit chemicals have been sold on Craigslist under a variety of pseudonyms (roofing tar – heroine, clear-sealant – crystal meth, and M30 – oxycodone). Over the past year, on Los Angeles’ Craigslist pages, investigators have seen more and more ads for Fentanyl. Like other drugs, Fentanyl has its own pseudonyms, including China White Doll and White China Plates.
According to assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles Ben Barron, Craigslist has proven to be an extremely effective agent in the dissemination of illegal drugs. Barron is in charge of prosecuting Los Angeles’ first Craigslist-related Fentanyl death.
The death occurred when the suspect, A. Madi, allegedly sold Fentanyl to the victim after being contacted through his post on Craigslist. The victim had just recently left drug treatment and like so many others, went right back to using. The victim originally contacted Madi via the suspect’s Craigslist ad looking for heroine. However, Madi was out of heroine at the time, and instead introduced the victim to Fentanyl. A few days later, the victim was found dead in his apartment of an apparent Fentanyl overdose; a baggy of the drug near the victim’s body.
A search of other major U.S. cities’ Craigslist sites only turned up a handful of similar ads. It’s believed that the Fentanyl market on the site is limited to Los Angeles due to the area being a prime hub for drugs out of Mexico and China – with both countries housing labs that produce a great deal of the substance.
Many believe the explosive popularity of Fentanyl is the result of several high-profile busts of heroine dealers in the Los Angeles area, who sold to addicts unable to get prescription opioids after doctors stopped over-prescribing them. That being said, it would seem the growing popularity of Fentanyl, much like heroine, is not the result of the traditional drug trade getting bolder, but the result of the pharmaceutical and medical industry’s overzealous habits in prescribing opioid painkillers.