Three people have been charged with using Facebook to sell illegal drugs and guns.
They were arrested Wednesday as part of Chicago police’s “Operation FaceBOOKED,” which targets the illegal sale of guns and drugs on the social medial platform, according to police.
Seven weapons were seized during the operation, with a combined street value estimated at $4,100, police said in news conference Tuesday. An additional 23 types of narcotics with an estimated street value of $105,000 were also recovered during the operation, authorities said.
“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,” interim police Supt. Charlie Beck said in the news conference.
Jasper Pintor, 22, of Marquette Park, is charged with five felony counts of delivery of a firearm, four counts of selling narcotics, two counts of armed violence, two counts of manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance and a count of gunrunning, police said.
Thomas Lucas, 27, of Logan Square, is charged with two felony counts of manufacture and delivery of heroin, and two counts of possessing narcotics, police said. He was arrested on similar charges two years prior.
Samantha Pierce, 27, of Portage Park, is charged with two felony counts of manufacture and delivery of cocaine, police said.
They are due for bail hearings on Tuesday.
"Facebook's refusal to remove Lucas' profile from the website after his initial run-in with police let him continue to sell drugs on Facebook," First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said.
In a statement, Facebook said “Illicit drug and firearms sales have no place on our platform."
"We remove content and accounts that violate our policy and catch over 97% of drug sale content and over 93% of the firearms sales content we remove before it is reported to us," the statement read.
Still, Beck argued the platform is "not doing enough to shut them down."
"The people who are doing the illegal acts under their own identities, Facebook doesn't shut them down," Riccio said. "When they find out there is officers operating undercover with covert identities, Facebook will shut those officers down."
Facebook said police know its rules about using fake identities, but it continues to work with the department and the mayor's office.
"The bottom line is that offenders are emboldened by the privacy afforded by Facebook," Riccio said. "This has created a thriving market where guns and drugs are priced high and sold fast."