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Chicago PD, says Facebook was no help in takedown of online gun and drugs ring

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Matt Finn reports from Chicago.

Chicago police say they received no help from Facebook, while they were investigating a gun and drug ring that was using the social media site for illegal activities.

The criticism came on Thursday, after the Chicago Police department announced the arrests of more than 50 people were said to have used an invite-only group page to run weapons and drugs, according to The Chicago Tribune.

“Facebook has a responsibility to the people they serve to ensure that these types of things don’t go on,” police Inspector Eddie Johnson said during a press conference on Thursday. “And to be honest, they are not very friendly for the enforcement of the law to prevent these things.”

CPD was led to the secret Facebook groups by the community and carried out secret operationa since February, 2017. Sellers posted weapon and drug sales flyers. Facebook was not useful during the research.

— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) December 21, 2017

The Chicago police narcotics division began investigating the ring after a source told about the group and their activities on Facebook. Undercover officers set up stings and arranged the purchase of almost 20 firearms, and nearly $50,000 in drugs.

In addition to the dozens arrested, the police issued warrants for 18 people believed to be involved in the ring.

“A perpetrator is wanted for attempted murder in Indiana. Another sold these illegal products during the electronic monitoring. Another had been recently arrested for carjacking and aggravated battery with a firearm, and he did all this while he was on parole,” Johnson said.

Anthony Riccio, chef of the department’s organized crime division, called Facebook at the press conference, too.

Here are additional “sale flyers” that were posted on Facebook to promote drugs and gun sales pic.twitter.com/lxVwWajQJH

— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) December 21, 2017

“I absolutely think that Facebook has a responsibility to check and this for this reason,” Riccio said. “There are other illegal activities — I want to point out, this is Phase 1 — are there other illegal activities on Facebook. We look at the potential of trafficking in human beings, that sort of thing. There is a lot of tentacles to go here. The things that are traded on their site are killing people in Chicago.”

He continued: “I think they have an obligation to take measures to ensure that things don’t happen. If another organization is the introduction of weapons or allowing weapons and drugs are being traded on the streets of the city, I think we want to take action and the citizens would expect us to take action.”

Officials with Facebook told Fox News in a statement that they were not aware of the investigation until reports surfaced in the news.

“We will investigate this report now because it is the first time that we are warned,” A spokesman of Facebook says in a statement to Fox News, adding that the company routinely work with law enforcement on such matters.

“We do not allow the sale of weapons or drugs on our platform.”

Riccio told The Tribune that the Facebook group and the sale of weapons and drugs would not be found by searching; someone had to provide for everyone’s intention to not participate. A department source said in the newspaper that secret accounts set up by the researchers, were shut down after Facebook learned that they involved enforcement of the law.

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter via @perrych

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