Deputy details how teens are using emojis to purchase illegal drugs online

Drug dealers and users are using cookie emojis to order large batches of drugs or a tree leaf emoji to inquire if someone is selling marijuana


By Ashley Silver

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — A sheriff’s department is doing what it can to address how juveniles are accessing fentanyl and other illegal drugs after four Hays County teens died of fentanyl overdoses this year.

According to CBS News - Austin, emoji symbols are being used to thwart suspicion when completing illegal drug sales.

“Kids are smart, right? They're gonna find a way around getting caught," Hays County Deputy Anthony Hipolito told CBS News.

The individuals selling the drugs to children believe that the absence of words within digital text will negate any guilt, but Deputy Hipolito said that is not the case. In the age of social media, officers are constantly searching for new ways to evolve their intel and need parents to be vigilant as well.

“Parents aren't really up to date on what kids are saying and how they're using social media,” said Hipolito. “We seem to always be a step behind, but we're trying to do our best to learn.”

The U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration released a drug decoder to teach parents and educators how the emojis are being used. Drug dealers and users are using cookie emojis to order large batches of drugs or a tree leaf emoji to inquire if someone is selling marijuana.

Emoji Drug Code Decoded - DEA by epraetorian on Scribd

Hipolito realizes the tough fight officers have ahead of them, telling CBS News, “We're not gonna take all the drugs off the street, but if we take off a pill at a time or a gram at a time, or whatever it is, we're doing our job.”

The fentanyl crisis continues to plague communities nationwide. Recently, the US Drug Enforcement Administration released a warning advising the public of an “alarming emerging trend” of colorful fentanyl available across the United States, and last week a student overdosed on a fentanyl-laced pill, prompting naloxone nasal sprays to be distributed to schools in Torrance, Calif.

RELATED: Download Police1 guide on strategies to win the war on opioids

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