A college freshman is now facing felony charges for creating a mobile app called “Banana Plug” to sell drugs, including cocaine, ecstacy and methamphetamines.
Collin Riley Howard, 18, was indicted on February 14 and charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute drugs.
He advertised his app and, erm, services, on posters and flyers across his college campus, creating quite a buzz at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Banana Plug is a play on words, as the mascot for UC Santa Cruz is Sammy the Banana Slug, and a plug is slang for someone who sells drugs.
Sooo… points for creativity?
It was promoted as a free game, but the game was a mere decoy as the whole point of the app was so students could order drugs – as reflected by the motto:
“We Have What You Want.”
It has since been removed from the app store following a four-month investigation.
UC Santa Cruz Campus Police noticed one of the flyers around campus and teamed up with Homeland Security Investigations to launch a sting operation in November 2018.
One campus police officer purchased both weed and cocaine through the app and coordinated the purchase by communicating with Howard on Snapchat.
Following this initial purchase, the undercover federal agent completed three more orders on the app – and this time, he bought meth.
Howard was arrested in his dorm room following the fourth transaction on November 28.
On February 14, Howard pleaded not guilty to the federal drug charges.
The former freshman made his second appearance in court on February 22 for a bail hearing.
Should he be convicted, Howard will face a $1,000,000 fine and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
University Spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason has since said that Howard is “no longer a student UC Santa Cruz” but declined to confirm if that is a result of expulsion or withdrawing of his own will.
Yooooooo this wilddd 💀💀💀
— Doc.Oct (@DocOct86) February 20, 2019
Countless people are praising the programmer.
That’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial
— Marco Esquandolas (@PrivacySeller) February 20, 2019
Free this young smart hustler
— BIG BOSS BAKER 🌫👨🏾🍳 (@BigBossBaker) February 21, 2019
LEAVE THIS YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR ALONE
— TOMMY POLO AKA LIL BABY GOAT (@TOMMYP0L0) February 21, 2019
According to some people, this teen and potential felon could be the new fresh-face of American Enterprise and Capitalism.
People seem to be joking, but also not at all.
Difficult to tell these days.
A true capitalist.
— Alan MacFarland (@1Bushbeater) February 20, 2019
American enterprising at its finest 😂
— Gigi RESIST (@eflorian10) February 20, 2019
Some are saying the concept was brilliant, but the execution was poorly done.
I would say advertising an app which allows students to purchase meth across campus on posters and flyers might not have been the best business strategy.
Good idea, poor execution
— smooth. (@ssmooth512) February 21, 2019
And others are saying it is such a shame that the college freshmen did not use his programming gift and creativity for good.
What a shame; another bright programmer with misplaced ambitions. Smh
— MrJdavidT (@jdavid_t) February 21, 2019
Too bad he didn't use that talent for good instead of evil…
— MC Lewis (@MCLewis_) February 21, 2019
"If only he had used his genius for niceness instead of evil." — Maxwell Smart, 1965
— JimAndrews518 (@JimAndrews518) February 20, 2019
Many are doubtful he will actually get convicted and spend even a few years behind bars.
He was released on bail from federal and state custody before the most recent court appearance.
Wanna bet he gets probation?
— mona berrier (@BerrierMona) February 20, 2019
And some are even teasing that he might get employed by a pharmaceutical company after all of this blows over.
He will be employed by Big Pharma.
— Dawa L. (@DawaL51259853) February 20, 2019
UC Santa Cruz declined further comment.