Boris Johnson last night urged the police to take swift action following the Daily Mail’s revelations about the billion-pound Instagram drug trade.
Downing Street also called for a response from social media companies as he praised us for exposing the problem of children buying potent cannabis on the platform.
Labour’s schools spokesman Peter Kyle said Instagram’s high-strength cannabis trade was as ‘rancid as crime can get’.
He also warned that the distribution of the drugs sold on social media often involved children in county lines gangs.
The Mail’s investigation found hundreds of dealers on the Facebook-owned site are peddling the drug to youngsters as part of a billion-pound online industry sparking major health concerns.
Drug Baron Selamet Mehmetaj, nicknamed ‘The Devil’, (Above) is a notorious dealer who uses Instagram to sell cannabis
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged police to take action over the Instagram drugs trade, as well as calling on social media bosses to clamp down on the issue
Pushers – who have tens of thousands of followers – promoted their wares with enticing pictures of cannabis packaged to look like children’s sweets or cereals.
They then arranged sales via private messaging services.
Undercover reporters met a drug baron who used Instagram to help make millions a year – and boasted about kidnapping and cutting off the fingers of a client who failed to pay.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘We have seen this investigation by the Mail, who rightly brought this to the public eye.
‘Criminals who peddle illegal drugs wreak havoc on communities, fuel serious violence and devastate people’s lives.
‘We would fully support any police action to tackle any criminals peddling illegal drugs in this manner.’
Asked how he wants social media sites to react, he said: ‘We are introducing tougher rules on social media firms.
‘I think they themselves have said that they are taking action in this space and we would urge them to do so as quickly as possible.’
Dealers using the social media site to earn themselves millions of pounds a year, our undercover reporters found
Daily Mail investigation finds dealers using Instagram (Pictured) to sell cannabis to children using brightly coloured sweet packets to entice them, and arrange sales via private messaging
The Government’s crime plan, which was released in the summer, set out tactics and investment for dealing with the ‘scourge of illicit drugs’ which are major drivers of burglaries and violent crime, the spokesman added.
He said that over the last two years, ministers had invested over £65million into tackling drug gangs, which had seen the police arrest 1,500 people.
He added: ‘There is definitely more to do here, which is why we’re setting up plans to publish a long-term drug strategy by the end of the year.’
Our expose revealed how online sales of high-strength cannabis had ‘exploded’ during lockdown, leading to fears of the drug causing a ‘psychosis timebomb’.
Experts have warned that drug dealers had now ‘shifted from street corners on to social media’ because of the ease of selling online.
Advertising on online platforms such as Instagram also gives the dealers greater legitimacy and it enables them to ‘build a brand and identity’.
It comes as almost 13,000 under-18s needed treatment because of cannabis last year, including more than 1,000 aged 13 and younger.
One consultant psychiatrist warned high-strength cannabis was driving youngsters into ‘psychosis, depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide’.
The Mail’s investigation also found some Instagram dealers offered ‘gifts’ to children buying from them if they persuaded their classmates to also become customers.
Mr Kyle said: ‘From start to finish this business of selling drugs via social media has at its core the suffering of children. It would not be viable as a business without children suffering.
‘Children are being sold drugs by social media, children are incentivised to involve other children, children are transporting the drugs from one part of the country to the other.
‘It is children who are delivering to the customers who are also often children. It is the criminal exploitation of children.’
Instagram has removed hundreds of dealers’ pages after being alerted by the Mail and said that it was continuing to investigate.