How drug dealers are infiltrating your kids' smartphones
ORGANISED crime syndicates using sophisticated encryption software on social media are infiltrating smartphones to supply and sell dangerous drugs throughout the Sunshine Coast.
The hi-tech devices pose a particularly difficult challenge for law enforcement desperately trying to rid the region of drugs and prevent families being ripped a part.
Smart phone applications such as Messenger, Snapchat and Instagram are being used as gateways by the dealers to supply people, many of whom are teenagers.
Sunshine Coast District Superintendent Darryl Johnson said the software was not restricted to the area but that it was a relatively new challenge.
Last year, more than 2100 people were stung with drug possession charges across the district, the Queensland Police Service database reported.
A further 65 people were stung for drug trafficking, 125 for producing and 205 for selling and supplying.
Supt Johnson said the encrypted software was difficult to crack as it avoided detection.
"Some of these platforms are very difficult to break into," he said.
"They avoid detection very well, but we have technology and legislation to allow us to identify opportunities to break the encryption.
"I won't give away our game plan but there are a number of covert strategies that we have.
"These syndicates are pretty sophisticated so we need to be innovative.
"It's important we meet the times to put us in the best position and embrace that technology."
Supt Johnson said drugs were a continuing problem on the Coast and that community members were using drugs at a younger age than before.
He said it led to a rise in other crime and was a problem that police could not arrest their way out of.
Associate professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast Dr Michael Nagel said criminals tapping into the multibillion-dollar social media industry shouldn't come as a surprise.
Are you concerned about drug dealers infiltrating your kids' smartphones?
This poll ended on 10 March 2020.
Yes, I monitor the accounts regularly.
I'm not sure.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Dr Nagel said smart phone apps were very hard to regulate and difficult to monitor and would continue to be as technology advanced.
"You can virtually make an app for any measure of length to do anything, and market it as, say, an educational app," Dr Nagel said.
"It is scary, particularly from my background. Apps are assessable to any age and they can be disguised so people will engage with them.
"Criminals will find a way to tap in a market like this, so it's not surprising.
"Young people don't know what they're walking into and I believe it's an area that needs far more scrutiny from authorities and the government."