Rentable electric scooters popping up around the U.S. are giving tourists and city-dwellers new ways to get around — and apparently drug dealers are no exception.
Three men in Indiana face drug charges after an investigation into synthetic narcotic overdoses revealed drug dealers are using commercial scooters “to navigate the downtown area with more mobility,” the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a news release on Friday.
Police said dealers operating in the city’s downtown are working together to evade police after state and local law enforcement began enforcing a no-trespassing order in American Legion Park. It’s an area known for drug use, drug deals, used needles and assaults, Fox 59 reports.
The three men suspected of dealing synthetic narcotics were arrested on Thursday, police said.
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Akeem Montgomery, 32, faces charges of dealing a controlled substance; Larry Spencer, 42, faces charges of obstruction of justice and possession of a controlled substance; and Johnny Gilson, 47, faces charges of possession of a controlled substance. Gilson was also arrested on a previous warrant for the same charge, according to police.
Detectives arrested five others during the undercover investigation because of outstanding warrants.
Commercial e-scooters from companies like Bird and Lime have proliferated across the United States in the last year. Even as they delight riders, the dockless scooters have vexed drivers worried about crashes and pedestrians who think scooters clutter the sidewalks.
Those in the anti-scooter camp have gone to extreme measures to run the scooters out of town.
“They throw them everywhere: in the ocean, in the sand, in the trash can,” said Robert Johnson Bey, a maintenance worker from Venice Beach, California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Scooter riders have been seriously hurt on rides as well, and Indianapolis is no exception.
“(Riders are) falling and a lot of time falling on their head and face,” said Indianapolis EMS Medical Director Dr. Daniel O’Donnell, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I’ve yet to see someone who’s wearing a helmet.”
Some cities have rejected scooters altogether: Beverly Hills, California, banned them in July for at least half a year after scooter companies showed up without the city’s consent, Fox 11 reports.
“Just because you beg for forgiveness doesn’t mean that you get it,” Mayor Julian Gold said of the scooter startups, according to the station. “And this is one where forgiveness is really not appropriate. Because what they did was really disgusting.”
It’s not just big cities and urban areas contending with (and banning) scooters.