Parents have been warned by police about the dangers of Snapchat ads enticing children into becoming drug mules for County Lines gangs.
The social media adverts offer up to £500 for those willing to sell drugs on a weekend, as well as working in return for mobile phones, vapes and clothing.
Police have been going into schools to outline the risky business on the app, where drug runners are using children to courier cocaine, heroin, cannabis and weapons across the UK.
According to Detective Chief Inspector Dan Mitchell, head of Scotland Yard’s county lines taskforce, Snapchat is one of the main tools for recruitment used by gangs.
DCI Mitchell said that the police are working with schools to give young people the knowledge to understand that this is a trap, and to build resilience in them.
County lines networks prey on children and young people, trafficking them and subjecting them to modern slavery involving emotional and physical abuse. Victims are coerced to hold and supply drugs, and those involved use weapons and serious violence, including kidnaps, to intimidate and threaten victims.
Raids carried out between February 27 and March 5 found 8.3kg of class A drugs, 37.6kg of class B and over £650,000 in cash.
A report by the Commission on Young Lives found that children as young as nine were being forced by county lines drug gangs to pressure their grandmothers into becoming drug mules because they look less suspicious. Criminals often threaten to harm the child’s family if they refuse a request or try and pull out of the operation.
Once children have been “groomed” into criminal activity, there is little choice to leave as they are “controlled” by the gangs, many of which are now run by teenagers.
Government figures reveal that as many as 200,000 children in England aged between 11 and 17 are thought to be vulnerable to serious violence.
There were 11,600 instances where gangs were a factor and 10,140 in which child criminal exploitation played a part.
In conclusion, parents must be vigilant about the dangers of Snapchat ads luring children into becoming drug mules for County Lines gangs.
Police are working to build resilience in young people and give them the knowledge to understand that this is a trap.
The involvement of children in county lines is linked to serious violence and modern slavery. The government is failing in its duty to protect young people, and this is a threat to the UK’s prosperity and security.»Police warn parents over Snaptchat ads turning children to drug mules«