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A Gram Of Tina Turner Tickets: Busting The Illegal Drug Trade On Craigslist
50 million classifieds are posted on Craigslist every month including ads selling pharmaceutical and illegal drugs, notes ABC Local. The police know. And they know what "Tina Turner tickets" means when Tina isn't on tour.
In a sting operation by members of the Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force (HALT), a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency unit that includes agents from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's and Health Services departments, an undercover agent posing as an interested buyer said a suspect tried to sell him a bottle of Levitra. The suspect was arrested on the spot.
Eyewitness News did their own Southern California investigation over a span of three months and found numerous postings for prescription pain relievers (ie: Oxycontin and Vicodin), anti-anxiety drugs (ie: Valium and Xanax), erectile dysfunction meds (ie: Viagra, Cialis, Levitra) that are all illegal to sell without a prescription.
A man was sentenced to six months in county jail after an undercover agent busted him for trying to sell a bottle of Levitra. Investigators later determined that $64,000 worth of pills had been stolen by the suspect from his employer, a major healthcare provider. When asked why he chose to use Craigslist to offload the medication, he responded simply, "It's free," reports ABC Local.
"They are rolling the dice on whether or not law enforcement looks into it," sheriff's Sgt. Steve Opferman said. "You know they are doing this pretty much out in the open. They're putting an ad in the paper, so they are really begging to get caught. If we could monitor this every day, we could definitely do this on a daily basis."
More dangerous or illegal drugs are generally listed under a variety of street names. "For example, one Craigslist ad made reference to Tina Turner tickets. Tina Turner, or just Tina, are both street names for crystal meth," notes ABC Local. HALT contacted that seller and agreed to meet at a Thousand Oaks Bank of America where was arrested by an undercover officer.
In a different case, authorities said surveillance tape shows a pharmacy tech stealing prescription medicines from behind the counter of a West Hollywood drugstore where he worked.
Law enforcement and health officials said many of the drugs sold online are counterfeit, manufactured overseas, and that people "don't really know what they're buying," notes ABC Local. Though Craigslist does prohibit such items for sale, authorities said "it's nearly impossible to stop people from selling...because posting advertisements are free and largely unmonitored."