Drug dealers, who advertise openly on Instagram, are willing to sell hundreds of pounds worth of cocaine to school children.

The dial-a-drug services use social media while assuring "safe delivery" to underage teenagers, an investigation has found.

The Argus discovered dozens of accounts advertising illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana, LSD and magic mushrooms.

Images of white powders, pills and cannabis were visible after a simple search on the popular website, which is owned by Facebook.

One ad boasted: "Stay high, no snitching, legit stuff, no faking."

The Argus: Kilos of Class-A drugs were advertised on Instagram Kilos of Class-A drugs were advertised on Instagram

While another said: "Safe delivery in our terms and services strictly 18."

Another claimed: "Strictly professional, swift deliveries."

Dealers direct potential customers to contact them via encrypted messaging services such as Wickr - making them harder to trace.

Our reporter posed as a schoolboy and, within seconds, was offered grams of cocaine from £100.

A dealer promised to complete the sale in broad daylight outside school gates, with no regard for hundreds of pupils finishing class for the day.

Another boasted they could deliver a packet of cocaine to Kemptown in 20 minutes - quicker than ordering a pizza.

Hove and Portslade MP Peter Kyle slammed the findings as "criminal exploitation of children in its most pure and rancid form".

Instagram has since deleted all of the accounts revealed by The Argus that violated their rules, which include buying, selling, trading, donating or soliciting drugs.

Brighton and Hove is said to be the number one spot in the UK for county lines, resulting in a plague of drug deaths and exploitation.

This is due, in part, to its proximity to London and appetite for powerful and profitable drugs such as cocaine.

Earlier this year, The Argus revealed how county lines drug gangs are abusing children in the city.

See the Instagram page selling the drugs below along with messages exchanged with The Argus

Labour MP Peter Kyle, who proposed a 14-year-sentence for those found guilty of exploiting children, said county line gangs are now "comfortably" targeting children outside school gates.

He said: "There are several incredibly troubling aspects of this.

"The first is the fact that this entire business revolves around children so not only are they targetting children with Class A drugs but they are knowingly doing so and comfortably targeting school gates.

"Secondly, children are at the heart of delivering and transacting the drugs.

"Brighton is one of the destinations for county lines so this is, criminal exploitation of children in its most pure and rancid form.

The Argus: A dealer flaunts weed in an advert on InstagramA dealer flaunts weed in an advert on Instagram

"What frightens me is that criminals understand how to exploit these vulnerabilities better than the people who are charged with keeping people safe."

The discovery comes just days after Boris Johnson insisted new internet safety laws will impose “criminal sanctions with tough sentences” on those responsible for allowing “foul content” on their platforms.

The Prime Minister sounded the warning to social media giants as he told MPs the Online Harms Bill will make progress in the Commons before Christmas.

The legislation is expected to force the biggest tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, to abide by a duty of care to users, overseen by Ofcom as the new regulator for the sector.

Mr Kyle added: "There is an incentive to go after the drugs, but there is no incentive to go after the impact on children.

"We need a criminal justice system that puts children first and whatever the crime, if it involves children, then the impact on a child's life should be the headline crime.

"It should be the crime that attracts the highest sentence and it should be a stigma that stays with the criminal for the rest of their lives."

Facebook claims to have 40,000 people working on safety and security.

This includes more than 15,000 dedicated content reviewers

A spokesman said: "We’ve removed all of the accounts flagged to us by The Argus.

"Buying and selling drugs is strictly against our rules and we use a combination of technology and human review to remove it.

"Between April and June we removed 2.3 million pieces of drug sales content, over 95 per cent before it was reported to us, and we work closely with law enforcement and youth organisations to help us continually improve.

"We’re exploring new ways to support people who search for this content in the UK, and hope to have an update soon."

Wickr was also contacted for comment. 

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