'Operation Dot Com': Sting Reveals Drug Dealers Openly Advertising on Craigslist

Cops arrested 21 in NY area after undercover officers made 63 drug purchases.

ByABC News
October 13, 2012, 9:34 AM

Oct. 13, 2012— -- An undercover sting by the New York Police Department and the city's Special Narcotics Prosecutor has revealed a booming business for drug dealers who now openly advertise on Craigslist.

Police arrested 21 in the New York area after undercover officers made 63 separate drug purchases, responding to brazen ads for "bundles of dope" and open advertisements for Adderall, Xanax, or Oxycontin.

One ad offered, "Friendly Nyu student who can offer pain relief and anxiety relief. easy, non-sketchy, straightforward meeting."

"That's really what stands out in this case: the openness, the blatant approach," NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told ABC News. "The wording was such that you knew it was illegal, we knew the drugs we were talking about."

Kelly said he has seen the number of prescriptions for Adderall and Oxycontin both skyrocket, with each going up by 100 percent over a four-year period.

"Clearly there has been a major increase in the use of prescription drugs and clearly the use of illegal prescription drugs," he said.

Kelley is helping to lead the national fight against the illegal drug trade online. Last year, the NYPD made a separate similar bust that netted 40 arrests.

Yet ABC News found the business is still booming in cities across America.

A quick search of Craigslist revealed ads selling Adderall in Los Angeles for $8 a pill.

In Philadelphia, would-be buyers go online, too. ABC News found one advertising "study aid needed" saying they were "Willing to pay well" and asking a seller to email them.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., a seller is still advertising a "gReaT DeaL" for a bundle of Adderall prescription drugs to be used as "study Aid$." They say you can "GRAB all 20" prescription drugs for $275.

Aaron Wallenstein, the attorney for Rosanna Gorgy, a Brooklyn resident ensnared in the sting, declared the innocence of the dental assistant.

"She maintains her innocence," Wallenstein wrote. "She did not place any advertisements on Craigslist, nor did she believe she was committing any crime, but was unfortunately duped by a friend."

Prosecutors allege she sold drugs to undercover officers on three occasions.

Others arrested included a financial advisor, a veteran photographer, and a graduate student at New York University.

'Study Aids' Trade

Yasmin Malhotra, 25, is an international affairs graduate student at NYU who has pleaded not guilty.

The illegal trade of "study aids" has exploded on college campuses across the nation. When ABC News visited NYU today, students were not surprised to hear about how brazen the dealers had become.

"I think it is pretty easy to get if you want to," said NYU Freshman Alex Martin, 18, who is in a pre-med program. Martin said he has never personally taken a stimulant, but told ABC News he would know where to go if he wanted to find some.

"Yeah, yeah I would," he said. "It's not uncommon at all."

Ironically, some of those still advertising the drugs openly on Craigslist after the recent bust were politely requesting that any responders not include law enforcement.

Kelly said part of the problem is the exploding number of prescriptions that are not well tracked, allowing for some doctors to flood the market with the drugs.

He says within two years, the state of New York will no longer allow doctors to issue prescriptions on paper.

Instead, he says, the state is developing an electronic database where physicians will enter their prescriptions. Law enforcement will be able to use the database to track those who prescribe an unusual number of anxiety or pain medication pills.

Kelly said he expects other states to follow suit.

ABC News reached out to Craigslist for comment on this story and has not received a reply.