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‘Swipe Left for Meth’: Polk detectives use dating apps to bust drug dealers, 60 arrested

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said its undercover detectives have been using dating apps to track down a number of people suspected of buying and selling drugs in the area.

A 6-month undercover sting, called “Swipe Left for Meth,” yielded more than 60 arrests, the agency said. Detectives also obtained warrants for eight people. 

The investigation began in July 2021 after PCSO was tipped off that people were openly selling drugs on the well-known dating app Grindr. Further investigation revealed drug sales were also happening on the dating apps Scruff, and Taimi, although Grindr was the app with more drug sales.

PCSO detectives said they created undercover profiles and found it “relatively easy to strike up conversations with those who were selling methamphetamine, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, Fentanyl, and marijuana.” A press release from the sheriff’s office added that the suspects’ primary purposes for being on the dating apps were to sell drugs – not to find a date.

During a Thursday press conference, Sheriff Grady Judd held up a rifle seized during the operation.

He said, “the next time someone tells you its low level, nonviolent dope, tell them ‘just gag me with a spoon, stick a fork in my eye.”

Throughout the investigation, detectives filed 159 felony and 72 misdemeanor charges. Altogether, the suspects have 908 previous charges, including 453 prior felonies and 455 prior misdemeanors.

“When we find drug dealers, we put them in jail.” Judd said.

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