Police have insufficient capacity to tackle drug trafficking on Telegram

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Police have insufficient capacity to tackle drug trafficking on Telegram

The police state that she has an invisible presence on Telegram and that she uses secret actions to prevent drug trafficking via that platform. But there is also a shortage of capacity to tackle the problem.


The police are aware that drugs are being traded via social media such as Telegram. This is what the team leader of the police high-tech crime team says on her own website: ‘Our teams have insight into these criminal logistics processes. We know which links and functionalities are in this process, and how and where criminals operate.’


The police say it is distressing that drugs and other criminal content are offered on a large scale via social media. This is difficult to combat on a platform like Telegram, because Telegram does not filter posted content, she says. ‘The cooperation with Telegram is also very difficult, partly due to the international legal assistance that is needed. But where possible, we will address these matters. For example, we have an invisible presence on certain social media platforms and we use covert actions for investigations.’


Drug investigations are often time-consuming and extensive, police said. “Telegram is primarily focused on trading user quantities,” the team leader explains. ‘Large quantities are offered less often via Telegram. Of course, Telegram sometimes offers the opportunity to expose drug networks, but that requires capacity and time.’

The police must also recognize that they have insufficient capacity for investigations: ‘To increase our effectiveness, cybercrime specialists also work in the regional units. But still. Police work is about making choices; our capacity can only be used once. If the choice has to be made between a trader in user quantities and someone who offers firearms on social media, the choice is quickly made.’

Ghost ads

The police do not know how extensive the drug trade is on Telegram. Experience shows that many ghost advertisements are also placed on Telegram. Providers who offer drugs but never respond, do not show up for an appointment, appear to sell fake drugs or have other intentions than selling drugs.

In research on Telegram, the high-tech crime team sees that there is a big difference between the online and offline identities of drug sellers: ‘Online they pretend to be tough guys who handle their criminal affairs professionally, but that does not always appear to be correct. practice. Suspects are often less good at hiding their drugs and identity than they thought.’

In December 2023, police specialists managed to take over the management of four Telegram groups in which banned fireworks were traded on a large scale. This previously also worked with groups in which drugs were traded.

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