Dealers using Instagram and Snapchat to sell drugs near where university students died

Brazen dealers are flogging Class A drugs on Instagram and Snapchat, near where four people died in drug-related incidents last weekend, a Sunday Mirror investigation reveals.

The crooks demand payment via Bitcoin and hide their identities behind anonymous social media profiles.

We found five dealers ready to deliver drugs within the hour to a spot half a mile from where Newcastle University student Jeni Larmour, 18, and another 18-year-old female student died.

Police said that ketamine was present at their halls of residence in Newcastle.

A 21-year-old male Nothumbria University student and Mark Johnson, 18, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, also died after they were suspected of taking MDMA.

After exchanging messages our investigator was able to order ketamine and MDMA, which they then did not buy.

Dr Simon Harding, Professor of Criminology at University of West London, said: “If you don’t know who you are buying from, you can’t get clear guidance as to the quality.

“The dangers of this are compounded by boredom of lockdown for people aged 18 to 20, who are at their wits’ end and may find this attractive. If you’re engaging with social media you are more likely to engage with this.”

Northumbria Police, have arrested 11 people in connection with the deaths and issued an urgent drugs warning.

And Newcastle University Students Union has installed an “amnesty bin”, where people can dispose of drugs.

They use the photo-sharing app to promote Class A drugs and cannabis.

And they then discuss deals on Snapchat – largely anonymously with any messages sent disappearing in seconds – or WhatsApp. One dealer offered to sell us MDMA tablets for £10 each.

When our reporter asked for four pills, he replied: “Mate my s**t really good” and recommended she bought six, saying he could deliver within an hour.

Another used the apps to offer 5g of Class B ketamine, a tranquiliser, for £50.

Dealers told our investigator they use cryptocurrencies to evade detection.

One, who gave a “menu” of Class B drug cannabis – including strains called white widow, death star and AK47 –claimed he could deliver in 35 minutes.

He said: “Everyone does Bitcoin now because [with cash deals] we have police and cops doing set-ups.”

Another promised to deliver a gram of “top quality MDMA crystal” for £85 in an hour.

Criminologist Dr Mohammed Qasim told the Sunday Mirror that gang members “infiltrate” student populations by enrolling in universities.

Freshers have reported having cards from dealers slipped under their doors.

And Junior Smart, of the St Giles Trust-run SOS Gangs Project, said food delivery-style websites were operating, with campuses flagged as drug hotspots.

He said: “You put in your postcode and it highlighted student accommodation as somewhere to go for drugs.”

A spokesperson for Northumbria University said it had a “zero-tolerance approach to drugs”, while a Newcastle University spokesman said the deaths had “shaken” its community.