The police have detained eight young people, including one minor, on suspicion of dealing in narcotics via an online network.
Officers from the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) North Prefecture apprehended the youths, who had allegedly sold drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine, via a Telegram messaging app group numbering over 200 people, including some minors, BNS reports.
The eight people detained are aged 17-28, and four of them have prior records in narcotics-related offences, according to BNS.
The amounts of illicit drugs which changed hands varied, though the majority were smaller volumes of a few grams.
Joining the online group to conclude deals was by invitation-only, according to Rait Pikaro, head of narcotics and organized crime department at the PPA North Prefecture.
"Before a transaction was concluded, the seller had to meet the buyer face-to-face at least once," Pikaro said.
"This was done in order to be sure that the buyer was serious about their purchase," he added.
Pikaro noted that while illegal activities among youth had moved on line as much as legal ones, the case was unprecedented.
"This is the first criminal proceeding of its kind where we have detected narcotics trafficking with so wide a network, between young people, who were not previous acquaintances but were united by a desire to buy and sell narcotics. Obtaining narcotics from virtual environments looks easier, for a young person, and may make buying narcotics increasingly simple for young people. As a result, things happening on social networks and trafficking directed toward young people in particular are increasingly coming to the attention of the narcotics police," Pikaro explained.
Three men suspected to be the prime dealers on the network, with one of them believed to be the group's instigator, have been remanded in custody by a court, according to BNS.
Editor: Andrew Whyte