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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Google site 'used by drug gang'
Screengrab of social networking site Orkut
Police say the drugs gang used Orkut to broker deals
Ten people have been arrested in Brazil after authorities discovered them allegedly using Google's online community site, Orkut, to sell drugs.

The drugs ring was uncovered after police tapped phone calls and monitored online communications through Orkut.

The site, used for building online communities and making contacts, is hugely popular in Latin America.

According to media reports, more than half of the seven million community members are from Brazil.

"We discovered the drug ring first via authorised phone tapping, and later the investigation included monitoring of their activities on the internet," an officer at the Drugs Enforcement Service in Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro, told the Reuters news agency.

"We are aware of the situation and are currently looking into it," Google said in a statement.

"When we are made aware of situations that are against our terms of service we take appropriate action."

Social spaces

Orkut, launched by Google in 2004, is an invitation-only service which lets people build up networks of contacts with whom they chat.

It is similar to other social networking sites which have become increasingly popular such as Friendster, and MySpace which was recently bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The Brazilian authorities say that the drug dealers used the Orkut network service to link up deals to sell ecstasy and marijuana.

The online community site was created by Turkish software engineer Orkut Buyukkokten.





SEE ALSO:
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Online advertising drives Google
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