These innocent-looking emojis could be hiding nefarious messages, Ohio officials say
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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Concerning activity could be hiding behind friendly-looking text messages.

The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center (ONIC) is warning all parents about emojis that are reportedly being used on social media and cellphones to market, sell and buy illegal drugs. 

According to the ONIC, seeing certain emojis on your child’s phone could be an indication of possible drug activity, though emojis can be used in many other ways as well.

“The use of emojis in this manner is a nationwide trend, and our analysts are seeing it here in Ohio as they analyze electronic devices seized in ongoing drug investigations,” ONIC Executive Director Cynthia Peterman said. “Although the use of these emojis is most often harmless, it’s important that parents keep this alert in mind, especially if their child is showing other signs of withdrawal or drug abuse.”

According to the ONIC, emojis can refer to specific types of drugs, drug dealers and drug prices. For example:

  • ? = Oxycodone/Percocet
  • ? (Step ladder) = Alprazolam/Xanax
  • ? = Fentanyl
  • ? = Marijuana
  • ? = Drug dealer
  • ?️ = Price of a drug
  • ?/⛽/? = Potency of a drug
  • ?‍?/?/? = Describes the euphoria of drug use

To report a drug tip to ONIC, call 1-833-OHIO-NIC (644-6642).

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