Rotherham dealers brazenly sell illegal drugs online in plain sight 

by | Dec 14, 2023

Image: Screenshot between dealer and drug user

Dealers are advertising illegal drugs such as cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy on social media platform ‘X’,  a Rotherham Reveal investigation has found.

A search on the site connects users to dealers advertising the hard drugs daily usage.

One drug user, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Reveal: “If you typed ‘drugs’ into X so many [results] would pop up. I messaged one and they added me straight back asking what I wanted to buy. 

“All of them were selling big batches and only replied at night. I knew someone who had picked it up from them but they seemed really intimidating. I thought it was so dodgy.” 

A second drug user also admitted trying the numbers posted online. 

She said: “Sourcing the number was too easy. It took a matter of seconds to source multiple dealers who were advertising the same details multiple times a day.

“The conversation moved on to Snapchat. They responded incredibly quickly and sent an extensive list of drugs they had available.”

Snapchat conversations between the drug user and a dealer

Since the Reveal started investigating the sales, the numbers used by the anonymous users have been removed from X.

However, alternative numbers have been posted.

The discovery of these online drug sales comes after extensive attempts from South Yorkshire Police to curb Rotherham’s drug usage, which is on the rise. 

Drug use has become pervasive within the community in recent years. A viral TikTok video that exposed bloody needles carelessly discarded in public toilets in the town centre sparked outrage at the brazenness of drug use.

Whitney Ainscough, who posted the video, was with her two young children when she went into a public restroom. Her son had asked: “Mum, why is there blood?”

Miss Ainscough said: “I went in and told him to use a different one whilst I had a look and saw a needle bin with blood on the top, it is absolutely disgusting.

“They could have any blood disease and my son has ADHD and potentially ASD and a tendency to touch things he should not. I will never use those toilets again,” she said. 

In 2022 alone, there were approximately 1,500 arrests for possession of hard drugs by South Yorkshire Police in Rotherham, information obtained by the Reveal under the Freedom of Information Act showed.

South Yorkshire Police has been running Operation Duxford since last year, with the aim of targeting organised crime and exploitation. 

In October, more than a dozen people were arrested after they were found to be in possession of large quantities of drugs and weapons.

Inspector Liam Walters, who led the operation, said: “We’ve seen some really encouraging results from this Operation Duxford with officers executing warrants to tear apart and disrupt criminality, while showing to the public the work we do day in, day out to tackle crime.”

South Yorkshire Police has not responded to a request for a comment on the availability of drugs via X.

Under X’s ads content policy, the promotion of drugs and drug paraphernalia is prohibited.