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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT

Brazilians Used Google Site as Drug Distribution Network

July 21, 2005

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) — Brazilian police arrested 10 people on Thursday accused of selling drugs using Google’s international social networking site Orkut, which is hugely popular in the Latin American country.

“We discovered the drug ring first via authorized phone tapping, and later the investigation included monitoring of their activities on the Internet,” said a duty officer at the Drugs Enforcement Service in the city of Niteroi, just across the bay from Rio de Janeiro.

The officer, who declined to be named, told Reuters most of those accused were detained in Niteroi, others in Rio and one in the resort town of Buzios.

“We’ve nabbed 10 so far, but there may be more,” he added. The ring distributed mainly ecstasy and marijuana.

Orkut allows members to join and set up online communities to discuss everything from doughnuts to quantum physics and schedule events such as community meetings.

Narcotics are also discussed, with some groups advocating their legalization. However, most popular Portuguese-language communities touching on the issue are anti-drug groups.

Several million Brazilians have become devotees of Orkut (http://www.orkut.com) since Web search leader Google Inc. launched the popular social-networking site in January 2004. They make up more than half of Orkut’s 7 million plus members.

Part of Orkut’s allure is its exclusivity — one can only join at the invitation of another member. The site is named after Google software engineer Orkut Buyukkokten.