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Watch: Grindr Brings Cops, Drug Dealers Together in Massive Bust

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday February 5, 2022
Originally published on February 1, 2022

Grindr and other gay dating apps are all about bringing people together — though usually not in the way police in Florida managed, using the platforms in a months-long operation to set up a massive drug bust, UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

Officers from the Polk County Sheriff's Department created fake profiles in a six-month operation that led to the arrest of 68 alleged drug dealers who were peddling everything from marijuana and meth to LSD, the article detailed.

NBC News reported that the dealers were offering their illicit wares openly, though the drugs were referenced with slang words and emojis.

"Among the emojis that were used were ice cream cones and birthday cakes, Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters," the NBC News story noted. "The word 'Tina' was used for meth, he said."

Named "Swipe Left for Meth," the operation began "in July 2021 after [the Sheriff's Department] received an anonymous tip that dealers were openly selling narcotics" on Grindr, as well as on two other apps, Scruff and Taimi, the article detailed.

The Edmonton Journal noted that of the three apps "Grindr...appeared to be the preferred vehicle, racking up the most contacts leading to illegal sales."

In a statement, the sheriff's office said that the officers "found it relatively easy to strike up conversations with those who were selling methamphetamine, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, fentanyl and marijuana in Polk County."

All of those substances and more were included in the eventual drug seizures, which amounted to a substantial supply of illicit substances.

"It's reported the seizures included 280 grams of meth, three grams of cocaine, 130 pills of Ecstasy, about a gram-and-a-half of Fentanyl/heroin, a gram of LSD, about 28 grams of psychedelic mushrooms and 645 grams of weed," the Edmonton Journal said.

The sheriff's office disclosed that officers "obtained 52 arrest warrants for people who actually sold illegal narcotics, charged 16 other suspects for illegal narcotics over the course of the investigation and point[ed] out that eight suspects with warrants remain at-large," the article went on to add.

"In all, 159 felony and 72 misdemeanor charges have been filed against the suspects involved."

The sheriff's department statement specified that, "It was clear during the conversations and ensuing undercover drug buys that the suspects' primary purposes for being on the dating app were to sell drugs — not to find a date."

To watch the NBC News clip, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.