Private Facebook groups have "emboldened" sellers of illegal drugs and guns to connect with potential buyers over the social media site, Chicago police said Tuesday, as leaders announced that a two-year undercover investigation led to more than 50 arrests. Police leaders, including former LAPD chief Charlie Beck, who's Chicago’s new interim superintendent, also accused Facebook of failing to help prevent illegal sales of guns, the AP reports. The social media company banned private sales, trades, and exchanges of firearms in 2016, but investigators said they found dealers using private groups and messages to quickly sell firearms and drugs at prices higher than street values.
First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said Facebook agreed to shut down groups identified during the Chicago investigation but that it also should kick members of those groups off the site. "Facebook often cites privacy concerns when they are confronted with the facts of our investigation," Riccio said. "The truth is, Facebook is harboring criminals. These criminals know how to use the privacy Facebook affords them and they profit from the sales of illegal drugs and dangerous guns." Riccio also said police have been frustrated by Facebook's removal of fake profiles that investigators use to pose as potential buyers. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company quickly responds to "valid legal" requests from police. (Chicago's police chief was abruptly fired on Monday.)