Drug dealers using social media to target teens

Oman Tuesday 21/December/2021 22:45 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Criminals are trying to sell drugs on social media to teenagers, often relying on a lack of parental control to get through to them, the Royal Oman Police has said.

To further ensnare them, narcotics are often marketed by these peddlers as performance enhancers that increase their memory and physical power.

An increase in illegal online activities involving the promotion of drugs has been noticed recently, thanks to the latest technological developments, said Lieutenant Colonel Sulaiman bin Saif Al Tamtami, the director of enforcement administration at the Directorate General of Combating Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

“While there has been a general increase in the number of crimes we have witnessed, owing to developments in technology, crimes around drugs and psychotropic substances are no exception,” said Al Tamtami.

“These are among the most serious crimes worldwide, in terms of their impact on the health of individuals, families and the societies, and the security and sustainable development of the country.”

“Drug dealers resort to illegal promotion of their products on social media, as they hope to target those teenagers who use such sites without parental control,” he explained.

“Although Oman does witness some crimes of this nature to a limited extent, we have seen various social media applications used to promote such substances.”

“A team of technicians and specialists at the Directorate General of Combating Drugs and Psychotropic Substances has been formed to monitor social media and to spot any violations involving the promotion and dealing of drugs and psychotropic substances,” added Al Tamtami.

“In case websites or programmes promoting such substances are found, then the team communicates with the departments concerned with blocking such websites in the Sultanate.”

Among the various methods used by drug touts to rope in unsuspecting people on social media are the use of fake accounts to advertise narcotics, adding photos of attractive women so that youth will be more inclined to view such pages, and also claim them to be substances that increase understanding and memorisation. This last tactic is particularly used to target school and college students ahead of their examinations.

Some websites also promote drugs and other psychotropic substances as enabling motorists to drive for long hours without feeling tired or sleepy.

“Victims who fall for such schemes normally have a lack of awareness about such things on social media,” said Al Tamtami, encouraging people to not fall prey to such criminal activities. “There are opportunities for each and every one of us to get back on the right track, with the support of others.

“We always rely on the awareness of society and social media users when it comes to reporting and staying clear of such sites,” he added. “The Directorate General has taken several actions, including the tracking of such social media sites to report violations found on them. Once the violators have been tracked down, we will take the necessary legal action.”

The Law on Combating Drugs and Psychotropic Substances states that victims of such substances can ask for treatment to wean themselves off drugs. Such requests will be dealt with in complete confidentiality, the law adds.

Should there be individuals who require treatment for themselves, or wish to draw attention to others who are in need of assistance, the DG for Combating Drugs and Psychotropic Substances can be called toll-free on 1444. Alternatively, people can call the Royal Oman Police operations hotline on 9999.