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Feds say college student operated drug business through gaming app
Marco Verch/Flickr (CC-BY)
A college student in California has been accused of creating a mobile gaming app in order to sell drugs on campus.
The 18-year-old freshman, Collin Howard, was indicted by a federal grand jury this week for distributing cocaine and methamphetamine across the University of California Santa Cruz.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California states that Howard’s alleged gaming app, dubbed Banana Plug, was available on the Apple App Store and allowed students to order narcotics. The name was said to be in reference to the university’s mascot, Sammy the Banana Slug.
“The Banana Plug App offered for sale contraband, including cocaine, ‘Molly,’ and ‘Shrooms,'” the press release says. “The app also invited customers to make special requests.”
Law enforcement became aware of Howard’s activities after posters began appearing across campus advertising the app.
A UC Santa Cruz police officer, working alongside a Homeland Security Investigations agent, used the app shortly after to request both marijuana and cocaine. The team was then told to arrange the purchase with Howard over Snapchat.
“An undercover HSI agent made that purchase and separately continued to communicate with Howard on Snapchat to set up three additional purchases of controlled substances,” the press release adds. “The third and fourth purchases were for more than 5 grams of methamphetamine.”
It was at the fourth meeting that UC Santa Cruz police officers took Howard into custody.
According to the Daily Beast, the Banana Plug app was still available on the Apple App Store as of Wednesday morning but was removed later that day. The app’s description allegedly stated, “We Have What You Want.”
Howard was released after his initial appearance in court on Tuesday and could face decades in prison if convicted.
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H/T Daily Beast
Mikael Thalen is a freelance journalist based in Seattle, covering all things technology, including social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.