Social media networks are both useful and dangerous tools. Particularly when it comes to SnapChat, the service has received a fair bit of criticism over the years. That will not change in the near future either. Now that arms dealers are selling guns illegally through this platform, a very troublesome era has been ushered in.
The SnapChat Arms Dealers
A particularly worrisome report was shared by The Guardian earlier this week. It documents how several Americans are using SnapChat to sell guns illegally. They do so by obtaining the guns legally in one state and offload them in another state. One individual is particular interest in this regard. Known as Anthony Reed, the Nevada resident will no longer be able to sell his weapons in the State of California.
Reed is not the only person using this illicit method. Over the past few years, there have been numerous arms trafficking reports. By using these social networks and services, they can make a direct connection with potential buyers to schedule a sale. Although SnapChat can monitor these discussions as they see fit, it has only recently come to light this business model exists. It is not unique to SnapChat either, as similar posts can be found on Facebook and Instagram.
The ATF Keeps Tabs on Everything
The arrest of Reed came after a lengthy investigation by the ATF. After finding out about his arms trafficking in early 2018, the agency scheduled various meets with Reed. Over the course of a year or so, numerous weapons were purchased to collect evidence and build a stronger case. It is believed nearly 10 different arms deals were concluded for a grand sum of just over $40,000. This shows how active these arms dealers really are. To this date, it is unclear how much money they made from these deals.
Reed’s partners in crime include his roommate Rahsaan Faison and Faison’s brother Julaan. It is believed that all of these individuals purchased hundreds of semi-automatic weapons in Nevada. Most of the guns were obtained through private party transactions. Nevada is a lax state regarding the sale of guns, which makes it a prominent place for soon-to-be arms traffickers. By actively hiding these transactions from authorities, the trio only made their nefarious intentions all the more apparent.
Boasting and Flaunting Isn’t Helping
If Reed and his cronies aimed to hide their criminal activity, they didn’t do a good job. Multiple videos were posted on SnapChat and other platforms regarding the weapons. They also uploaded dozens of photos to promote the merchandise. Most of their customers were people with felony conviction records which would prevent them from owning a gun through legal channels. As such, their only choice was to illicit these arms dealers.
What is rather worrisome is how semi-automatic weapons and handguns were not the only merchandise being offered. Reed once mentioned to the undercover ATF buyer how they could “arrange whatever the customer was looking for”. That raises a lot of concern, for rather obvious reasons. While these three individuals are now behind bars, the core problem remains in place. Criminals will continue to use social media as a way to offload illegal guns in different markets. It is up to SnapChat and other Facebooks to ensure that can no longer happen.