Chicago Police said Tuesday that 53 people are in custody as part of “Operation FaceBOOKED,” a two-year operation to infiltrate secret groups selling drugs and guns on Facebook.
Interim superintendent Charlie Beck announced the mass arrests at a news conference Tuesday and took aim at Facebook’s privacy policies, which he said facilitated the practice.
“Today’s announcement will help educate everyone on how some of these dangerous weapons are being sold, and how social media conglomerates like Facebook are encouraging this type of illegal activity by turning a blind eye in the name of member privacy,” he said. The investigation began in December 2017 when an informant told police drugs and weapons were regularly sold on these private groups on Facebook, according to First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio. The private groups are unsearchable, effectively making them invisible to anyone not invited in, he explained. “Facebook claims to monitor these groups but CPD detectives have labeled these private hidden sites as a version of the dark web that is more accessible to everyday users,” Riccio said.
Sixty-five people were targeted and identified in the operation, and of those, 53 are in custody and two have active arrest warrants as a result of the investigation. Police recovered seven weapons — four handguns, two shotguns and a high-powered rifle — totaling about $4,100 and 23 types of narcotics totaling about $105,000, Riccio said. Facebook says on its site that the sale or trade of firearms between individuals is not allowed. [full article]