More than 60 people have been prosecuted in Florida after putting up profiles on gay dating apps as part of a six-month narcotics investigation dubbed as 'Swipe Left for Meth.'

Following an investigation in July 2021, undercover detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office detained 60 people. They secured eight arrest warrants linked to the sale and/or possession of illegal narcotics.

The investigation was initiated after the sheriff's office received information that people were openly selling narcotics on Grindr, a popular dating app among the LGBTQ+ community.

According to a press release, detectives used the app to build undercover profiles. They found it "quite easy to strike up discussions with persons who were selling methamphetamine, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, Fentanyl, and marijuana throughout Polk County."

Officers learned that the suspects' main goal for using the dating app was to sell illegal drugs rather than finding a suitable partner during talks and subsequent undercover drug transactions. Grindr was the most popular app for drug sales. However, Scruff and Taimi were also used.

According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, officers have' known for some time' that criminals will use the internet to prey upon children online or engage in prostitution. Still, the use of dating apps to peddle illegal substances is something police are seeing more and more of in Polk County.'

The sheriff said per WSVN that drug dealers would utilize emojis like the ice cream cone and birthday cake and code words like 'party' and 'Tina,' which he said meant for methamphetamine, to signal they were selling drugs.

Suspects are getting more clever, but so are our detectives,' Judd said. He added that they collaborate with these mobile app firms to promote awareness. He said officials are asking for their help with their investigations.

The good news is that officers found that some dating app users reported illegal drug transactions when they became familiar with them. According to Judd, mobile app firms banned some suspects trying to sell illicit drugs. He added that the cops put drug dealers in jail when found.

Bill Shafton, Grindr's vice president of business and legal affairs, told CNN that selling drugs or engaging in any criminal conduct is "strictly prohibited" on the app. He added that the moderation team works hard every day to forbid bad actors while protecting the privacy and security of their users.

As a consequence of the investigation, detectives brought 159 felony and 72 misdemeanor charges. They aim to monitor social media and dating apps for illegal drug transactions.

Gridr app
This picture taken on March 27, 2019 shows the Grindr app on a phone in Los Angeles. A Chinese firm has been ordered by American national security officials to sell popular gay dating app Grindr, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 27. Photo by Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

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