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Grindr, Scruff Used to Arrest 60 on Drug Charges in Sting Operation

Swipe left for meth.

"We discovered exactly what we were told: that they were selling dope. A lot of dope. A lot of street dope on these dating apps."

Polk County, Fla., authorities have used LGBTQ+ dating apps in a crackdown on drugs, targeting the apps' users who sold them.

As part of the six-month undercover operation police have called "Swipe Left," the Polk County Sheriff's Office said it had made 60 arrests. The term "swipe left" likely has to do with the association of swiping on mainstream apps like Tinder. Swiping right and left is not as much of an aspect of Grindr and Scruff.

The department said it had also obtained warrants for eight additional people who are currently at large.

In a press conference Thursday, police said the investigation began in July 2021 after the sheriff's office was given a tip about users selling drugs on Grindr. Police then targeted similar apps Scruff and Taimi -- apps used by the LGBTQ+ community, typically focusing on men who have sex with men. On the board of arrests, some women were listed.

"We discovered exactly what we were told: that they were selling dope," Sheriff Grady Judd said at the press conference. "A lot of dope. A lot of street dope on these dating apps."

Detectives reportedly found dealers who sold "methamphetamine, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, Fentanyl, and marijuana," according to a release. At the press conference, Judd held up a rifle that detectives also reportedly seized during the investigation. It was one of at 14 firearms that were found, two of which the sheriff said were stolen.

"When we find drug dealers, we put them in jail," he said. Police have filed 159 felony and 72 misdemeanor charges. They also served three search warrants.

According to the press conference, the majority of those charged were on the apps primarily to deal drugs. (53 arrest warrants were obtained for selling illegal narcotics and 16 others were on drug-related charges.) Many also had prior charges -- there were 908 previous charges against the group.

Judd remarked said it was a shock that the presence of drugs was fairly open. Detectives found the use of terms like "Tina" and "party" as well as things the cake emoji and the ice cream cone emoji as used to attract others who might be interested in drugs. Investigators bought 280 grams of methamphetamine (a street value of approximately $14,000) and 130 pills of ecstasy among other drugs.

While Judd often spoke of the dangers to children that these dealers posed, apps like Grindr and Scruff do not allow minors to utilize their services. However, Grindr has been routinely criticized for not installing tougher protocols for age verification.

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