Hermosa Beach Police Chief Paul LeBaron identifies social media as drug dealer tool

Hermosa Beach Police Chief Paul LeBaron. Easy Reader Archive Photo

by Dan Blackburn

A Hermosa Beach teenager’s 2020 drug overdose death put local law enforcement on the trail of dealers who use social media to initiate sales.

A months-long investigation, Police Chief Paul LeBaron told the City Council at its Tuesday night meeting, “resulted in the arrest of four adults and one juvenile.”

Undercover officers purchased 2,400 pills, of which 1,400 tested positive for fentanyl, he said. “Our detectives learned that many narcotics dealers are using popular social media platforms to advertise their products, and to facilitate the buying and selling of illegal narcotics.”

Young people are particular targets.

LeBaron said the social media platforms included Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, CashApp, and Telegram.

“Our community is not immune from the current epidemic of opioid overdoses,” Chief LeBaron told the city.

LeBaron said more than 100,000 people died of overdoses, nationwide, in the 12 months before April 2021. The leading cause of death was fentanyl.

“The use of these platforms gives dealers a much larger marketplace than in the past, when most of their business was done by word of mouth,” the chief said. “Narcotics, dealers and their customers operate under the belief that these platforms shield them from law enforcement.” ER


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