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Drug dealers doing roaring trade on craigslist, say New York City investigators

Drug dealing on craigslist has become so rampant that the city’s special narcotics prosecutor has asked the online trading post to curb the ads, the Daily News has learned.

Bridget Brennan’s undercover investigators have bought drugs offered on craigslist personals from dealers ranging from a Citigroup banker to an Ivy Leaguer to a violent felon using a halfway house computer. In the past four years, her office has prosecuted dozens of dealers.

“Ski lift tickets are here for sale … Tina Turner tickets … best seats around!” Offers like these appear virtually every day on craigslist, and they are thinly veiled ads posted by people hawking cocaine (ski) or crystal meth (cristina or tina).

“Despite devoting considerable resources to prosecuting these cases, drug dealing is still thriving on craigslist,” Brennan wrote craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster. Brennan said she was inspired to act by a recent agreement between craigslist and attorneys general from 40 states to curb prostitution ads.

“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel,” Brennan said of how easy it is to find dealers on craigslist.

One undercover said he just types “ski” in the search field and up pops ad after ad with offers.

“We respond to the ad, but it must lead to a meeting where the drug is exchanged for money, like any regular drug deal,” the investigator said.

Ten days ago, craigslist unveiled sweeping new measures, in partnership with law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to stop its ads from being used for prostitution, child exploitation and other illegal activities.

Craigslist will require “erotic services” providers to pay $10 for each listing and pay with a credit card, which the police will be able to subpoena.

Brennan says the idea could be applied to drug ads.

“I would like members of my staff who have an expertise in prosecuting Internet drug sales to meet with you and explore ways to curb drug dealing on your Web site,” her letter says.

In an interview, Brennan said the best course is “to work with them to screen out sellers. They would have to focus on commonly used terms and develop screening mechanisms.

“They’ll offer ski tickets in July in New York, and Tina Turner tickets when she’s not performing in town.” Marijuana ads are more, er, blunt. It is usually referred to by name or as “420.”

“We see lots of professionals, people with good jobs, doing it,” Brennan said. “They are shocked to get caught.”

One case involved a Citigroup vice president, Mark Rayner, 33, who was selling Ecstasy.

“Anyone want to go to roxy and get high and enjoy hex hector? E., K, Snow, tina, its all good,” he wrote on craigslist.

He did the deal near his midtown office, giving an undercover agent 50 Ecstasy pills and 7 grams of cocaine for $1,200. He pleaded guilty to sale of a controlled substance and got five years’ probation.

At the other end of the spectrum is Albert Rivera, aka Ray Rivera, 32, who was on parole for an armed robbery on a G train in 1994. While in a halfway house in Brooklyn, he engaged the undercover through craigslist.

He pleaded guilty and got a sentence of three to six months.

Craigslist did not respond to requests for comment.

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