APD expands use of social media to track illegal drug activity 

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Tik Tok are being used for illegal drug transactions, selling guns, and other illegal activities. (Photo by Celia Raney / NM News Port)

By Ludella Awad / NM News Port

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is expanding its monitoring of social media to track illegal drug transactions as part of an initiative to prevent violent crime. 

“We have social media being used as a means for dealing drugs,” said Interim Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina. 

In a press conference on  February 4, APD said they are partnering with the county district attorney’s office, state attorney general’s office and federal law enforcement agencies to assist with operations.

In the past week, APD and the Crime Strategies Unit at the District Attorney’s Office conducted a successful operation that resulted in four felony arrests for trafficking controlled substances. One of those arrests was federal, two felony warrants were cleared for parole violation, and a firearms charge with two firearms being  seized.

With the advancement of technology, law enforcement agencies are adapting to track criminals who use social media for illegal activity. (Photo by Celia Raney / NM News Port)

Kyle Hartstock, special agent of the Crime Strategies Unit, said while the dark web still exists, many people are opting to use regular social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Tik Tok for illegal drug transactions, selling guns, and other illegal activities. 

“This operation is identifying a marketplace that is causing violence to occur all the time,” Hartstock said. “Some of the violence ends up as homicides, some of it ends up as felony robbery cases, or shootings and stabbings. Some of the violence leads to retaliations.”

Harstock said with the advancement in technology and social media, law enforcement agencies are adapting to track criminals who use these tools for illegal activity. 

Medina said many violent crimes involved local youths. He encouraged parents to monitor their children’s use of social media. 

Ludella Awad is a reporter for New Mexico News Port. She can be reached on Twitter @LudellaAwad or by email at nmnewsport@gmail.com